The One Life We’re Given

By Terry Shea

March 8, 2017

Centre for Spiritual Living White Rock

Posted In: Spiritual Wellness, White Rock


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I attended the Celebration of Life for Rev. Judy Nowik last Sunday and there was a feature in the programme called, Rev Judy, This Is Your Life. It was a powerpoint slide presentation of photos from Judy’s life accompanied by the music she liked. Such presentations have become a common feature of these celebrations and it reminded me of a TV show from my past called This Is Your Life. The show was touching, warm-hearted and often had surprise guests and hilarious moments. It made me think of Mark Nepo’s newest book and of my plans to go and hear him speak when he comes to Unity on March 24th.

For the first time in my friendship with Rev. David Leonard, he and I will be sharing a talk series and a book..I was planning to do this series on Mark Nepo’s book and he told me on Sunday that was his plan as well. Who knows what wonderful stuff will shake loose in our collective consciousness week to week as we explore this book together.

Nepo’s focus for the book is finding a wisdom that waits in your heart and… then what? The supposition is that there is a wisdom there. WE know there IS but we also know that ”wisdom is independent of any form it may take.” (SOM p. 442) The most the outer can do is to point to the use we have made of the inner, be it a virtue, a spiritual practice or a life. But the outer can never define or confine the Truth that resides in the heart. That Truth is there to be constantly discovered through its many manifestations, our reflections on them and the awareness that we bring to them.
As the days have gone by, I have continued to inhabit this book and Mark Nepo’s thought process more fully. My book now has so many hi-lighted passages that move me that It’s hard to find white space anymore. This is to be expected. Nepo is a poet! His use of language often stops me dead in my tracks, so powerful is the image evoked in a phrase like this one:

… when arriving at intimacy in my relationships, after honest, loving work … working the grain is how we love and labour, and no matter what we build or create, the shaving we chisel is the insight that lightens our load.

Those lines are so loaded with metaphor that I can sit and unpack them for hours, staring out at the ever changing landscape of the river, as the sun comes up and a snow squall and a flock of swans do a ”fly by.”

The four sections of this book each have their unique intention and appeal. I intend to talk about one section per week, sharing with you my thoughts on what it means for me moving forward in MY life and inviting you to do the same. I intend to keep a journal, as Nepo suggests, recording my musings, my insights and my questions over the next month. If you feel called to put a book study group together to explore ”the One Life” I encourage you to do so. The book is ideal for that. Just invite me to join you some evening so I can enjoy the benefit of your reflections and insights. Nepo includes suggestions for sharing your thoughts as well as meditations that would be perfect for group sharing or even sharing with a prayer partner, colleague or family member.

I was speaking the other day with a friend about how much I love seeing movies and talking about them afterwards and how cheated I feel when the film leaves me with nothing to talk about or when the person I’m with doesn’t want to rehash the movie. There will be no further dates with THAT one! Mark Nepo’s book leaves me longing for someone to talk to about it and… well… i guess you’re it. What I’m wanting now is for you to talk back.

The book is out in hard cover only and is expensive ($35.00) We will not be bringing it into the bookstore but it is widely available. I encourage you do get one. Let the musings begin.

This week’s theme, an invitation to look and Mark’s advice and mine: ”Love Your Window.”