"So let's keep with each other company, which means let's be companions, which goes back to the French, meaning 'one who breaks bread with another.' It always comes down to this, our willingness to walk together through the storm and share what we have, so we can create a path to all that matters."
These words from Mark Nepo reminded us of how long we have been keeping company with this spiritual teacher. We remember fondly meals when we have broken bread with him. We recall times when we listened to each other and shared our dreams and aspirations. In the years that we've been covering religion, philosophy, poetry, and spirituality, we have read and reviewed most of his 20 books, and many of them have landed on our annual lists of the "Best Spiritual Books." He has affirmed our work in times when it really mattered as we faced the storm of an uncertain future. We in turn have celebrated the recognition he's gained that have resulted in sales of over one million books.
One thing we have always appreciated about this incredibly talented writer, storyteller, poet, and teacher is his recognition that the spiritual life is not easy. Life is messy. It is full of suffering. Transformation takes time, attention, and effort. His new book acknowledges those truths in its very structure. It is designed to be used as a weekly reader covering 52 paths from innocence to experience: enduring our walk in the world (part 1), until we discover our true inheritance (part 2), which lets us live in the open by widening our circle (part 3), until we help each other stay awake (part 4).
The chapters are populated with Nepo's own observations, inspiring quotes and poetry to illustrate the paths, and stories about how people have navigated them. Each chapter includes "Questions to Walk With" that are offered as prompts for those keeping a journal.
Using this guidebook, the spiritual practitioner will rejoice in Nepo's uncanny ability to consistently stretch our minds and souls with fresh musings. For example: "We might better learn from fish, who travel in schools quite naturally." "Song in particular has a strong and sacred lineage as a conduit for our aliveness." "There is a Spanish saying, Se tu vida, which means 'Be your life.' That is all that is asked of us." "Resistance to the truth always causes suffering. Too often, we waste time — even years — in an argument with life, rather than working with life to navigate our hardships."
And here's a great summary of all that matters:
"When preoccupied with survival, we become pragmatists, pessimists, and even nihilists. When lost in the gears of existence, we're always challenged to let in beauty while we're suffering, to let in love while we're struggling. What holds everything together, what releases resilience, and what renews us when we're struggling is relationship. Relationship is the lifeblood of inner health."
There is much to explore and savor in this book, and we can see why Nepo says that slowly is the way! Blessings on your journey.