The time when we walk in the shadow of death is, ironically, a time when we feel illuminated by life’s true meaning. Poet and philosopher Mark Nepo has firsthand experience with this mystery–he had cancer. During his arduous recovery, he sought inspiration and guidance that would reflect his growing appreciation of life. Although this daybook is exactly what Nepo longed for as he struggled with a difficult disease, , it can be appreciated by all readers.
This collection of essays, one for every day from January 1 through December 30, offers a poet’s sensibility and sensuality and gives the reader Nepo’s well-harvested wisdom. “Water reflects everything it encounters,” Nepo writes in a May 5 essay. “This is so commonplace that we think water is blue, when in fact it has no color…. But the water, the glorious water everywhere, has taught me that we are more than what we reflect or love. This is the work of compassion: to embrace everything clearly without imposing who we are and without losing who we are.” After each entry, Nepo offers a short list of suggestions or questions to help carry the essay into the day. There are many inspirational daybooks out there. What sets this one apart is the mature poet’s voice rising from a seasoned soul. –Gail Hudson
Mark Nepo has written a beautiful book about life, informed by the shadows of death. I’ve been blessed and humbled by reading his words. —Marianne Williamson, author of Enchanted Love
Mark Nepo is one of the finest spiritual guides of our time and The Book of Awakening is one of the finest fruits of his spirit. —Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach
A year’s supply of wise and shining thoughts to be taken, one a day, like vitamins for the soul. —Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. author of Kitchen Table Wisdom
There are very few books in this world which elicit the question `Why have I such an array of books on this subject when this one would suffice?’ The entry of Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening into my life not only presented this question but also initiated an immediate removal of the other six inspirational books waiting in a tumbled line by my bed, making space in my overcrowded life for the simplicity of one source of wisdom.
The Book of Awakening, which is beautifully produced by Conari Press, is in the form of a daybook, having an entry of wisdom for every day of the year. This allows us to take a dip into this vast ocean of insight every day or to dive in at random when the spirit moves us. Each page of wisdom is followed by a short and profound meditation on the topic at hand which helps put the reading into the context of one’s own life, and is suggested in such a way that even the meditation-shy could be enticed to participate.
In his introduction, Mark describes his book as `a companion and a soul-friend’. I agree that this book can act as a soul friend, which is a different relationship than is possible with most wisdom books. And that is quite a gift to give to yourself or a friend. The key reason for the possibility of this almost human relationship with the book is, I believe, to be found in the divinely human writing style of the author.
Mark is born a poet whose eyes perceive the divine patterning within the everyday experiences of life. He has crafted the art of painting that depth so that others may begin to see into and beyond the mundane. Each new entry seems to invite a deeper friendship of the soul as Mark lays himself bare in his truly personal stories of struggle and revelation. He interweaves his own perception with gems of collected treasures from many spiritual traditions, giving us access to his own spiritual advisers in their many forms.
— Carmella B’Hahn, Sufi Journal, London