Presence out of absence : (Adrift : A poem) : Mark Nepo

Sometimes, presence rises out of absence. I think of how absent my father was for much of my adult life and now he’s so present to me after his death. Our closest moments overcame us in the years approaching his death. It was there on the edge between his great presence of life and the great absence of death that we were most real with each other.

In the depth of our heart, where what matters defies separation, presence and absence are one. In the depths of any one feeling, we’re led to the unnameable sum and source of all feeling. Grief is a great teacher of this. Losing both my father and Mira in the same year, I fell into the turbulence of grief, where I was tossed in the cool drift of absence away from the world. And feeling the depths of their absence strangely opened me to this unnameable place where all things exist at once. Exhausted by my struggle to sort these extreme feelings, I settled into humbling receiving them, which led to this poem


Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.

This is how the heart makes a duet of

wonder and grief. The light spraying

through the lace of the ferm is as delicate

as the fibres of memory forming their web

around the knot in my throat. The breeze

makes the birds move from branch to branch

as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost

in the next room, in the enxt song, in the laugh

of the next stranger. In the very center, under

it all, what we have that no one can take

away and all that we’ve lost face each other.

It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured

by a holiness the exits inside everything.

I am so sad and everything is beautiful.

Every poem appears like a beam of light that calls for me to follow it into the open. Once there, I’m always surprised the way a tired seeker. winded by the climb is stalled by the sudden vies. The sudden view at the end of every poem is the unexpected teacher, the reward for following our feelings into the open

Extract from : At Centre of Every Feeling pp 219 – 220

The One Life We’re Given : Finding the Wisdom that Waits in Your Heart

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