Mark Nepo is a deep optimist. It is a rare trait and thankfully he also writes elegantly. Shallow optimism is fueled by ignoring history and by enormous amounts of denial. Deep optimism is when you can still see—through the darkness of illness, despair, death, and injustice—the single light that illuminates the world. Mark never loses touch with that source. That is his gift. These essays, a collection of jewels, are his gifts to the rest of us.
Each person is born with an unencumbered spot, free of expectation and regret, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry; an umbilical spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologists call this spot the Psyche, theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of the Unconscious, Hindu masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.
To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identify, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it. This is a hard lifelong task, for the nature of becoming is a constant filming over of where we begin, while the nature of being is a constant erosion of what is not essential. We each live in the midst of this ongoing tension, growing tarnished or covered over, only to be worn back to that incorruptible spot of grace at our core.