Mark Nepo 11/04/14 02:51 PM ET
No one can construct the bridge upon which precisely you must cross the stream of your life, but you.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Every single being has an amazing, unfathomable gift that only meeting life head-on and heart-on will reveal. And we can’t fully know our gift alone. We need each other to discover the gift, to believe in the gift. And then, to learn how to use it. The challenge for each of us is not to discount our gift because of the indifference of others, and not to abdicate our gift because of the various weights we’re forced to carry.
What does it mean to have a gift? For the lamp, the light it was shaped to carry is its gift. Without a light, a lamp has no purpose. For a person, we are shaped by experience to reveal the light we carry. For a person, how that light comes through us is our gift. We could say that for every hand, the heart it was shaped to carry is its gift. And a life cut off from the work of its heart has no purpose. Our call in the midst of our days is to discover the gift that connects our heart and our hands, to discover the light that fills the lamp of the life we are given. Once discovered, our work is to never let the light of our gift go out.
The gift can come through us in any way: cleaning the snow off a neighbor’s car, clipping your dog’s nails, reading books to blind children, helping a retired couple refinance their home, devoting yourself to Beethoven’s violin concerto. As a lamp can light any patch of ground, the hand filled with heart can light anything it touches. The gift is what fills our hand. The various skills of the world are how the gifted hand moves.
Finding the ways our soul can breathe cleanly and completely is our career. Where that happens is our occupation.
A Question to Walk With: Describe your gift as you understand it. When did you first become aware of your gift? If you’re not, what settings or activities bring you most alive?
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