Energizing minds. Inspiring hearts. Awakening souls.

Being Held

10832865 - lotus in hand image of buddha

“I’m not holding on” said a voice in my head.

The thought floated up like a gauzy smoke from the Caterpiller’s hookah in Alice in Wonderland.

I was sitting in silent meditation along with 349 other people on a five-day silent retreat last December.

No sooner did that declarative thought arise; another quickly followed.

“I’m not letting go.”

Ah, now this was curious, as both statements felt utterly true.

I noticed that these two seemingly opposite truths were what in Zen Buddhism is called  a “koan.”



  1. “a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.”

I sat with the relative truth of both and peered into the space in-between and this is what emerged:

“I am being held.”


Being held.

Ahhhhhhhhhhh. The awe of it.

At the end of the meditation period, I recalled a poem I read many years ago that captured this same truth. I looked it up when I returned home from retreat.  It did indeed speak of this same experience of being held and charmingly was written by another Mary.

Footprints In the Sand

One night I dreamed a dream.
As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
there was only one set of footprints.

This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
“Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
You’d walk with me all the way.
But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you,
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

-Mary Stevenson.

Amidst intense chaos, change and conflict at present, I am heartened by the fact that I can seemingly hold on one moment and let go in the next. And when I get quiet, still and clear, “held-ness” was there all along.

Namaste my friends,