"You survived as a child because others helped to maintain your life. It continues to be true today, even when you think you are abandoned, rejected, neglected, and unloved: the tomatoes you eat sustain you, the crossing guard stops the traffic so you can get to the other side of the street, the dinner offered to you on clean white plates nourishes you, the paper on which these words are printed informs you. Noticed or ignored, this web of others protects and holds you and makes it possible for you to make a difference: to take what came to you as seed and pass it on as blossom, and what came as blossom and ripen it to fruit.

"Follow your own fingerprints. There they are on a child's forehead who feels safe enough to dream. And there they are on the bread that will be a young girl's breakfast. There, on the check that will pay someone's rent so his family can have safe harbor.

"Often the light of this simple and profound awareness of how much you really matter to the rest of us is eclipsed as you focus attention on what is missing, the deficits, the horizons you never reach. It may seem as if everything is working against you. You may be able to think only of the mistake you made this morning, the disease that threatens you, or the words that pound against your heart in betrayal. In these moments you need to find refuge in the dark corners of your heart and solace in your own mercy. In these moments your tears can soften the tight shell that defends you. In these moments there can be a breaking apart and a breaking open so the holiness of your life can be released. These are not moments of weakness. These vulnerable, almost unbearable moments cultivate the garden in which grace can grow.

"Recent findings in neuroscience teach us that our brains have the capacity to grow throughout our lives. Even after we grow up, we can grow forward. We grow through difficulties, through adversity and joy, through kindness and challenge, through beloveds and betrayers. It is our nature to grow — to become more intelligent, more fertile, wiser and more resilient.

"It is all that life asks of you really: to grow what you were given, the spot of grace that is who you truly are; to allow the seeds in you to blossom in the light of the life you are experiencing; to cultivate this garden and bless the forces that have been the fertilizer, the rain, and the hoe; to open your hands and release the fruit of your existence.

"You don't need money to do this. The moments you are given are your true wealth. You don't need power, influence, or fame. The sunlight brings the power; the wind carries the influence. And as for fame, well, when you allow yourself to notice all those hands that have made your growth possible, you will also recognize what you have made possible for countless others — and how famous you already are. In this very moment, one of those others may be telling a story about how you helped them grow forward."