audio projects

finding our way in the world

BREAD FOR THE JOURNEY, MILL VALLEY, CA, SEPTEMBER 2005

AUDIO DESCRIPTION

This CD was recorded in September 2004 in a studio in San Anselmo, California. It contains 74 minutes of Mark Nepo reading his own poems from several books. Organized around the title theme, Finding Our Way in the World, the CD has four movements: The Practice of Uncertainty, The Practice of Courage, The Practice of Connection, and Suite for the Living.

EXCERPTS

OVER COFFEE

This morning it is raining,
gently, while my wife is sleeping,
our dog curled in my space.

And for some reason, I’ve fallen
into the quiet basin of my heart
where all loves mix. And there,
the friends and lovers and strangers
and the family I no longer talk to—
there, they have all softened like
cardboard drifting in the ocean.

The light rain at the window is
saying, Don’t. Don’t think too
hard—just swim.

Can it be—that all our lives
we’re just funny shaped cups and mugs:
sometimes clear, sometimes not,
sometimes chipped, sometimes too
hot to hold?

Can it be—the whole sorry struggle
for a self is just to have something
sturdy enough to carry the love?

BEING A FEATHER

He sat quietly
as his father went silent.
Sometimes, his father
would look far off and
the shape of his eyes
would sag, and he knew
his father was carrying
the things that burn
where no one can speak.

It was then that the feather
appeared. He tried to guess
if it was hawk or crow or
maybe heron, but his father
said, “It doesn’t matter
from which flying thing
it comes. What matters
is that it carries us back
and forth into the life above
and the life below.”

His father held the feather
as if it were his own,
“It carries us into sky life
and ground life until
both are home.”

His father placed the feather
in his hands, “Anything
that connects above and
below is such a feather.
The quiet is such a feather.
Pain is such a feather.
Friendship is such a feather.
The things that burn
where no one can speak
is such a feather. You
are such a feather.”

REVIEW

"One of the sweetest joys in my life is to hear Mark Nepo read his poetry. There is a tangible air of adventure. I am always surprised as Mark, unwrapping hidden treasure, carefully opening a simple moment, reveals the most extraordinary miracles. When he reads in public, you hear people catch their breath as they recognize something deep and true, something known but forgotten, or missed. Mark sees it, remembers it for us, and gives it back to us. In the end, there is a sense of gratitude for being awakened again to something truly precious.”
Wayne Muller, author of Learning to Pray, Sabbath and How, Then, Shall We Live?
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