09/05/2013 11:12 am ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

One More Time

My new book of poems, Reduced to Joy, has just been published. The book contains 73 poems, retrieved and shaped over the last 13 years, about the nature of working with what we're given till it wears us through to joy. For the next few months, I'd like to share poems from the new book with you.

We are such willful creatures. Carried by our stubbornness, we can begin to think that we are the originators of all our experience. Often, the purpose of experience is to humble us into remembering that we are, at best, interdependent creatures, learning to inhabit the myriad forces of life that carry us. From this place of awe, a different kind of resilience shows itself, as an undying passion for life. This poem praises such humble passion.

One More Time

When willful, we think
that truth moves from
our head to our heart
to our hands.

But bent by life,
it becomes clear that
love moves the other way:
from our hands to our
heart to our head.

Ask the burn survivor
with no hands who dreams
of chopping peppers and
onions on a spring day.

Or the eighty-year-old jazz
man who loses his hands
in a fog. He can feel them
but no longer entice them
to their magic.

Or the thousand-year-old
Buddha with no arms
whose empty eyes will
not stop bowing to the
unseeable center.

Truth flows from us,
or so we think, only
to be thrown back
as a surf of love.

Ask the aging painter
with a brush taped to his
crippled hand--wanting,
needing to praise it all
one more time.

A Question to Walk With: Describe someone in your life that you admire who has this kind of deep passion that comes from their connection to life. If they are alive, go to them, and ask them about both their connection to life and their passion.

For more Poetry for the Soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.