THE BLOG
11/10/2014 02:53 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2015

The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element

Our job is to stay thoroughly human, not to perfect our way out of it. I admit I've lost years to refining myself when I've needed to deepen myself. I admit I've known the lift of the beatific ocean of Spirit and the crash of the world's great wave. And no matter what is taken away, I try to accept everything as a blessing. I try to put down my mask and sword and keep entering life. But I confess, when I was sick, I refused the teacher and the teacher made me sicker until I could hear. This is how I was forced to learn that experience is the fifth element -- insatiable and transforming as fire, clear and saturating as water, relentless and binding as earth, and necessary as air. Outliving those I love and outlasting things I've built is how I've been humbled to learn that grief is how we listen our way through loss. Opened, like a Russian nesting doll, to smaller and smaller shells I didn't know I was carrying, I've been opened to the truth that obstacles are teachers and emergencies are rearrangers. Now I bless the wisdom in Rilke's line:

The dove that remain(s) at home,
never exposed to loss...
cannot know tenderness...

A Question to Walk With: Describe one way that experience has revealed yourself to you.

For more poetry for the soul, click here.

For more by Mark Nepo, click here.