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  • Writer's pictureRev. Izzy Harbin

Our Amazing Selves

Within Young Leaves

The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

Wrapped within

young leaves:

the sound of water.

—Soseki


"This delicate observation by this Japanese poet is filled with the quiet hope that embedded in our nature, even as we begin, is our gift already unfolded. Embedded in the seed is the blossom. Embedded in the womb is the child fully grown. Embedded in the impulse to care is the peace of love realized. Embedded in the edge of risk and fear is the authenticity that makes life worth living.


"Wrapped within young leaves is the sound of water that will nourish them once they have opened. It’s already there prompting them to unfold and grow. To believe that this is possible requires a faith in currents larger than any one mind can envision. But that is not such a difficult thing to accept, for as dust owes its path to wind, we, as human beings, are asked to acknowledge that something larger encircles us and prompts us to unfold.


"There is a gravity of spirit that pulls the essence of who we are into being. Our job, like all our sister creatures, is to find the abundance of air and water and light, and to unfold what is already within us."



In case you haven’t noticed, I have fallen in love with Mark Nepo, especially his Book of Awakening. I use it now for my daily meditation guide and it always speaks to exactly where I am in my life. This reading comes from April 29th and continues to speak to me about what it means to recognize what is already within.


I have said many times in the past that I believe we are created with everything we need already inside of us. Our task, if we describe it that way, is to excavate our lives enough to uncover what those things are—all the strength, courage, and fortitude to do the next right things and to be willing to risk being our true authentic selves. None of this is easy, most of it isn’t comfortable; and yet, we do not grow, nor are we transformed into our best selves, without doing the work.


What I love about Nepo’s perspective is that we have been embedded with everything we need. There isn’t anything that we have to acquire in order to be who we are. In describing the process as an “unfolding,” he is acknowledging that we don’t come into this world unfolded, but that it is a gradual process over time. The more we live and learn, the more we unfold into what we are meant to be.


For those of us in the LGBTQIA Community, our coming out process was just that, a process. I’ve heard my whole life that being Queer is a choice—that we are choosing to sin against God. Today, I call bullshit on that notion. Yes, I just cussed. I’ve said to many people over the years, if this had been purely a choice, I would never have chosen it; none of us would. No one I know would actively choose to be hated by so many, ostracized by family and friends, intentionally become targets of hate crimes, or to even be killed because we wanted to label ourselves as Queer.


Who we are is God-given. We, too, were made in the image and likeness of God. The diversity of God’s creation is so evident if we stop long enough to pay attention to every shade of green or all the varieties of animals, birds, etc. God was prolific in God’s imagination. Every kind of living thing that is represented in creation brings some unique aspect of God into focus. This is what we celebrate. This is what we have pride in – not the haughty pride that some scream about, but the recognition that we are a miracle of creation just like the ostrich, the duck-billed platypus, or the giraffe.


We celebrate the LGBTQIA Community because of all they represent and all they bring to the table as a people. We are better as a people for all their contributions to the world. If we paid closer attention to what is already inside of us, maybe we would also recognize that it is easier to love than it is to hate. It is easier to be compassionate and to hold space for others than it is to dismiss or deny. It is easier to listen to gain understanding than it is to scream loudly about what you hate.


It is my hope and my prayer that if you struggle with issues around the LGBTQIA Community, you’ll talk with someone who can help you expand your view of the world. It takes all of God’s children to make the world a better place for us all. We all have something special to contribute to life here on earth. May we find mutual cooperation to be a more exciting and vibrant path toward wholeness as we all discover what is already inside of us.

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