Braille of Heart

This comes from Mark Nepo’s amazing read-in-a-year (or read-at-your-leisure) book called The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want By Living the Life You Have.

Live in Your Hands

“Several years ago, while doing a poetry reading in New York City, I encountered an angry young man who had just seen a woman mugged.  He was so enraged he wrote a poem on the spot.  A pensive voice from across the room called out, “Yeah, it sure beats stopping the mugging.”  I felt like there was nothing left to say.  The story points up, painfully, how living in our thoughts removes us from the very real journey of being alive.  To always analyze and problem solve and observe and criticize what we encounter turns our brains into heavy calluses.  Rather than opening us deeper into the mystery of living, the overtained intellect becomes a buffer from experience.

Live in your hands and your mind will learn to bow like a root.

“I have a dear friend who has studied almost all there is to study about the heart and the mind and its dance of psychology.  This study led her to a very old sage whose last instructions were, “Live in your hands.”  Once open to this, my dear friend—knowing nothing about stonework—found herself building a stone chapel in the side of a hill.  In so doing, she consecrated the chapel that had been waiting in her heart.

“I have another friend who, whenever she sees flowers, must gently touch them.  I’ve watched her countless times finger yellow petals.  She needs to touch the beauty, and when she does, I can see the beauty touch her.  Then something in her opens a little further.

“To live in our hands humbles our mind into accepting something other than itself.  It is how we heal each other and ourselves.  We all come alive through a Braille of heart.”  [Bold emphasis mine.]

I’m reminded of all the years I taught high school math and science.  We were told as teachers not to touch the kids in any way.  I ignored that rule, and in all my years of teaching, I had only one girl who flinched when I put my arm around her, and it turned out that she was being removed from her home by Social Services because her dad was routinely beating her.  My students needed the contact, needed the playful hugs and joshing pokes on the arm.  They wanted to know I saw them.  They wanted to know they counted.

At least that’s how I saw it.  And now, my own daughter can’t get enough snuggle time.  I think it’s in our nature to want to feel something—tangibly, kindly.  I think it’s one of the ways we relate to our world.

How will you “live with your hands” today?

[Post image: Hands/Sand by hayna on stock.xchng]

Leave a Reply

The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

Recent Tweets

    No public Twitter messages.

Blog posts by topic

Archives by month

Buy Eve: A Novel by Elissa Elliott