The Drama of our Bleeding is one of my favorite chapters in one of my favorite books written by poet and cancer survivor Mark Nepo. I highly recommend his book for those searching for Spiritual insight.
He begins about talking about how in order to feel joy you must also feel pain. This immediately caught my attention as I reflected on how I have coped through unbearable pain in my life by going numb. And it helped. I never cried….on the flip side I never laughed (or even smiled) for years. The world seemed cold and gray and there was absolutely no color. Wound after wound was carved into my heart and my numbness just glossed it over with a temporary scab. The wounds continued to fester beneath that scab but I carried on. Eventually I medicated to find relief from my pain which of course as we all know only brought on more pain. New wounds were carved into my heart and the sad thing was these seemed to be carved by my own hand until the festering over came the scabs and I had arrived at my “rock bottom”. This was a very difficult time because I could no longer ignore the pain I was in …..no matter who created the wounds. I lost everything including the last shred of dignity I had.
In The Drama of our Bleeding Mark tells an interesting bit of little known history about the artist and poet William Blake. Before William began the primary printmaking process was called intaglio which is Italian for carving. In other words, the letters (words) were carved into a copper plate. The ink would fill the tiny wells made by the carving which created the print. The print was made from the lack of something…the voids in the copper plate. William created a new process for printmaking called relief etching. In this process everything around the letters (words) is carved or worn away leaving behind the raised lettering. The print was made from the raised parts which transferred the ink to the paper….the letters were made from what was left behind.
I’ve learned that the life experience uses both gravities to shape us. We are carved in our humanness, the grooves of our wounds and joys holding a blood-ink that leaves a print of who we are. AND we are eroded by experience of what is not essential, revealing the irrespressible edges of what has always been within each of us since birth.
It was when I hit rock bottom that the relief etching of my spirit began to emerge. What I found buried under all that pain (and all the ego had piled on top of me such as my anger, victimness, self pity, self medicating etc.) was worth exposing. The beauty of my vulnerability and authenticity is truly something to behold. It is the result of my ongoing practice.
As much as I like to read I love to write every bit as much. My writing is just one aspect of my practice. Weekly and sometimes daily I discover another part of my ego that I whittle away to reveal more of my Self. In my reading I learn new teachings that help shape me but it is life experience…especially the painful parts that erode the parts that cover up the true me. Just this work alone can be so daunting as I have to revisit over and over my shadow parts. This work use to be something I avoided with every ounce of my being. I truly thought if I had to relive my pain I would surely perish. Upon rock bottom I no longer had a choice. The only way to overcome it was to go though it. After doing this for a while I was relieved to learn not only did I not die but the treasure I found on the other side of my pain and shame was priceless.
I know I have much work still to do….a life time of work…but I celebrate the process because with each step the closer I come to Source. If this is what my life is about….if this is all I ever do….it is enough. It takes courage and faith to ride the waves but I do it because each time I do the beauty of the stillness around me shows me such profound Grace.
So I leave you with some thoughts….in what way has life carved itself into you and in what ways has it eroded you into your true and authenticate Self?
Walk in Beauty
Posts I recommend reading: