The Secret of Life

Two girls discover   
the secret of life   
in a sudden line of   

I who don’t know the   
secret wrote   
the line. They   
told me

(through a third person)   
they had found it
but not what it was   
not even

what line it was. No doubt   
by now, more than a week   
later, they have forgotten   
the secret,

the line, the name of   
the poem. I love them   
for finding what   
I can’t find,

and for loving me   
for the line I wrote,   
and for forgetting it   
so that

a thousand times, till death   
finds them, they may   
discover it again, in other   

in other   
happenings. And for   
wanting to know it,   

assuming there is   
such a secret, yes,   
for that   
most of all.
~Denise Levertov “The Secret”

The secret of seeing is, then the pearl of great price.
If I thought he could teach me to find it and keep it forever
I would stagger barefoot across a hundred deserts after any lunatic at all.
But although the pearl may be found, it may not be sought.

The literature of illumination reveals this above all:
although it comes to those who wait for it,
it is always, even to the most practiced and adept,
a gift and a total surprise.

I return from one walk
knowing where the killdeer nests in the field by the creek and the hour the laurel blooms.
I return from the same walk a day later scarcely knowing my own name.

Litanies hum in my ears;
my tongue flaps in my mouth.
Ailinon, alleluia!
~Annie Dillard from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?  
For nothing is hidden except to be made manifest;
nor is anything secret except to come to light…

Mark 4: 21-22

We all want to know it: learning the elusive secret that would resolve the mystery of our existence. Why are we here at all and for what purpose do we live and breathe?

Some are untroubled by not knowing. They live out each day one step at a time, not looking back and not too worried about what is coming up around the bend while others are always looking for meaning, evaluating the significance of each moment.

Some of us seek middle ground. I am eager to have life’s mysteries cleared up, but content to give the unknown the time it demands. Each day I search for something that asks for my complete attention, whether a line of poetry or a slant of light in the sky, or my grandchild’s arms around my neck. That is enough for me to settle in with gratitude for simply being here. And it feels right to share what I see and read and hear and experience.

So here is one person’s secret of life: don’t give up the search and share what you find along the way…


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One thought on “The Secret of Life

  1. Sometimes it is not only seeking but being alert & responsive to the light when it comes. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your bits of light as you find them (or as they find you).

    Liked by 1 person

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