Get Up! The Astonishing Journey

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David Whyte refers to us as “pilgrims on the astonishing, never to be repeated journey….” in his book: Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. As a new day arrives, I catch that sense of opening to the unfolding of a new life that is here just now, and which will not be back again. Awakening is like this: breathing in astonishment, wandering through wonder, and then becoming breathless at the passing of it all. Life is being born right this moment, as I write and as you read, and like a river, it will flow on to whatever is next without a thought. Astonishing!

Unbearable is what it can feel like to live on the cusp of now and not yet. Staying awake to the constancy of Life’s changing forms sounds delightful, but in experience awakening is wearing and hard to bear. No wonder we find it so easy to go back to sleep, fantasizing that our lives and circumstances are solid as a rock. For knowing the Truth of constant uncertainty can terrify.

An awake human journey is simultaneously wonderful and terrible, and so we need a blessing to remind us “…of the radiance/that came when you gave/your awful and wondrous/yes,” according to Jan Richardson in her book: Circles of Grace. We can wish to cling to what has been, but this requires enormous energy, and to some extent delusion. For Life flows on in ceaseless movement, and so do our individual days, including this one presenting itself just now.

When this week passes into the past, just a few days from now, you and I will be changed. Life will take us to places we cannot now imagine, will wash over us and drown us for a moment, and lift us up into delights; it will crush us and then restore us. We can hardly bear to know how vulnerable we are to the yet-to-be-seen and never-to-be-repeated flood of change flowing our way just now.

But hiding, numbing, avoiding, denying – none of it ever works in the end. So I say, “Get Up!” What else is there to do, if we do not want to miss our own lives arriving from some distant shore, but submit to Forces beyond our control and trust that there is that within us which can meet whatever arrives this week. For moments such as this I offer the poem: “Get Up!”

The moment has come

to push off from shore.

The solid ground disappears behind you.

There’s only open sea in front of you,

and a vast spaciousness beckoning.


Your canoe seems small here.

Your paddle strokes swirl into nothingness.

There is no path, or guide on this ocean.


In the dim light

there is only the calling

of a tiny voice

saying, “Let go,


follow Me.”


And you remember

your Master said,

“Three days after death

the Human One will be born again.”

And you pray you too

will find that new birth

out here in the wide world

one moment at a time.


How strange

that we must venture

into the unknown

to be born

again and again.


About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through; and of a blog on, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (, adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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