Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Our One Assignment

Mark Nepo's Weekly Reflection: Our One Assignment

Buddha said the origin of light came from within. The implication is that there is an inner plane of forces that mirrors the elements of the physical world. That as matter is a conduit for fire, water, earth, and wind, our wakeful consciousness is a conduit for the forces of inner light, which manifest as intention, care, compassion, and kindness. And while survival has us navigate the struggles of circumstance, the transformative way to meet and mitigate events is to express the inner forces of light into the kinships that strengthen the Web of Life. In this way, light has migrated for eons through our suffering and delight into the world. This, then, is our one assignment: to make our humanness the lens through which light comes into the world.

Time and the misdeeds we perpetrate make ruin of what we’re given. And each generation takes its turn at restoring what has been broken, in each life and each era. As far back as the thirteenth century, the Edda, the source of Icelandic mythology, described God creating light by throwing embers into the darkness. This was an early archetype of our very flawed and human destiny: to find what has been lost and to remake what has been broken by throwing our care and ingenuity like embers into the darkness.

And so, despite the rise and fall of epochs, it is our vow to cast light into the dark that remains noble and enduring. In this, the French philosopher, Albert Camus, rightly sanctified the struggle itself, regardless of the outcome. Whether doomed or crowned, it is the lift of what is in the way that renews us. We must stay committed to the journey, regardless of what happens.

The fiercely tender American poet, Chris Bursk, struck at the heart of our journey when he said, “How many of us spend our lives traveling back and forth between the harm we inflict and the good we want to do?”

To act on love in real time is how we release our radiance, until more light remains than dark in every turn of the wheel.

A Question to Walk With: Describe one act of care and ingenuity you can throw like an ember into the darkness you encounter. How might you begin to enact this gesture of love?

This excerpt is from my book in progress, Falling Down and Getting Up.

For a full calendar of upcoming events, visit:

Mark’s 2022 Calendar:

AUG 26-28: Mercy By the Sea, 167 Neck Rd, Madison CT, weekend workshop, Reclaiming Our Humanity: Being Fierce and Tender in Our Call to Love, Fri 7-9:30PM EST Sat 9:30-5:30PM EST, Sun 9:30-1230PM-- IN PERSON

OCT 28-30: Harmony Hill Retreat Center, Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity, A Weekend Retreat, IN PERSON

SEPT 16-18: Friday Night Reading and Weekend Retreat (Sat and Sun), Surviving Storms: Finding the Strength to Meet Adversity, The Sophia Institute, Charleston, SC, or call 843-720-8528,  -- IN PERSON

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