love like water ~mark nepo

Only love, with no thought of return,
can soften the point of suffering.

Water in its clear softness fills whatever hole it finds. It is not skeptical or distrusting. It does not say this gully is too deep or that field is too open. Like water, the miracle of love is that it covers whatever it touches, making the touched thing grow while leaving no trace of its touch. True, the faces of shores and the arms of cliffs are worn to bone. But this is beyond the water’s doing. This is the progress of life, of which water is but an element.

Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely.

Of course, we are human and are easily hurt if not loved back or if loved poorly. But we waste so much of life’s energy by deliberating who and what shall be worthy of our love when in the the deepest elemental sense, these choices are not in our province, any more than rain can choose what it shall fall upon.

Certainly, we need to make decisions: Who will I spend time with? Who will I learn from? Who will I live with? Who will I marry? But beneath all that, the element of love doesn’t stop being elemental. It does not stop covering everything before it. And over a lifetime, the pain of withholding this great and quiet force is more damaging than the pain of being rejected or loved poorly. For love, like water, can be dammed, but toward what end?

In truth, the more we let love flow through, the more we have to love. This is the inner glow that sages and saints of all ages seem to share: the wash of their love over everything before them; not just people, but birds and rocks and flowers and air.

Beneath the many choices we have to make, love, like water, flows back into the world through us. It is the one great secret available to all. Yet somewhere the misperception has been enshrined that to withhold love will stop hurt. In truth, it is the other way around. As water soaks scars, love soothes our wounds. If opened to, love will accept the angrily thrown stone, and our small tears will lose some of their burn in the great ocean of tears, and the arrow released to the bottom of the river will lose its point.

~Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening