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The Murmur of Life

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That our heart can receive and hold anything and that we feel that the intensity of living is too much to bear is a paradox we can only live into. Under what is both unbearable and endlessly uplifting is the murmur of life.

The Murmur of Life

I hear this murmur wherever I turn: when sweeping the grains of coffee from the counter, when picking up the stray bottle in the parking lot, wondering about the one who drank it, when watching a frightened child being squeezed in the back of a crowd erupting into violence. I feel the liminal glow that lifts things further into life; the way wind blows pollen down the field when no one is looking. I feel the breeze of light that lifts a bruised, tired head after the weight of great pain. I feel the thing in life that won't let us stop growing, no matter how difficult the circumstance. A bluebird needs a small, enclosed house propped in the open where it can nest and give birth, the way the heart is our enclosed house propped in the open, to which our soul brings twigs. It's the scratching of the twigs in our heart that seems unbearable, as we wait for something blue and light within us to be born.

By its very nature, the heart is destined to be smaller than what it needs to fill it. For the human heart is a powerful incubator. And we are left with the agitation of always feeling more than we can digest, make sense of, or handle. It seems the heart needs to heat up, so what it's incubating can pop out of us with its hungry beak reaching for the sky. Our most precious moments of aliveness arise when the heart is brimming with more than it can contain. Our job is to be a trustworthy birdhouse for the hatching of mystery. This is how life awakens the soul.

A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of a time when your heart felt more than it could contain, a time you couldn't quite make sense of, and try to describe what was incubated in your heart during that time.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.

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