I came upon a poem by David Whyte titled “What to Remember When Waking.”
It’s about that liminal moment when we first awaken — that fleeting time just before the subversive busyness of the day saps the immersive vitality of the night.
Whyte says that it is in this straddled time that we are aware of a stream of life within us.
Far more honest than our personal desires, it may well hold the secret to becoming who we were meant to be.
The poet encourages the reader to wade deep, allowing those waters to energize and guide the waking hours to follow.
For Whyte, the essence of who we are is hidden inside. It is something to be encountered and embraced.
He reminds us that “to be human / is to become visible / while carrying / what is hidden / as a gift to others.”
The poem makes no particular religious reference, but I thought of Matthew’s kingdom similes. He first compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who discovers a treasure buried in a field.
“Out of joy,” he sells all that he has to purchase the field and possess that treasure. On the heels of that one-verse parable, there is another of a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he comes across a “pearl of great price,” he, too, gives up everything to have the gem.
These lines resonate. Even those whose lives appear a success — loving relationships, good health, economic security — still experience an incompleteness, a niggling sense of something more. They, perhaps we, are not yet whole, lacking some elusive fulfillment that would bring lasting joy.
Matthew’s field and marketplace suggests that maybe the treasure will be uncovered “out there” somewhere.
However, Luke contends that the kingdom is found within. I doubt that Matthew would disagree. Most of his Beatitudes — the meek, the merciful, the poor in spirit — concern inclinations of the heart, nurtured by the spirit and then offered to the world.
Perhaps that’s why when Jesus withdraws for prayer, He does so alone. The journey into the heart is a solitary one.
But, as Jesus’ life attests, when we have made that effort and stumbled upon the treasure within, we will know the divine depths of Whyte’s waking words.
“You are not / an accident / amidst other accidents / you were invited / from another and great/ night / greater than the one / from which / you have just emerged.”