Wholeness Does Not Mean Perfection
Twice this past week, I have come across quotations about integrity and perfection. And this at a time when I've been thinking rather a lot about my own imperfections. Of which there are many. At the same time as I'm mulling over my limitations and failings, I'm looking at all the weeds I'm too tired to pull in my yard, and at the spider webs which seem to be accumulating more abundantly than is usual. I should do something about that, I think. But I don't, and soon, my neglect turns into something I find to be quite beautiful.
The first quotation is by Parker J. Palmer, and goes like this:
I'm the first person to tell you that I'm nowhere near perfect. No one is. Seriously. No one. I often think about the poem by Rumi, which ends:
If you can go a week and not belittle anyone in thought,
word, or deed...let me know, for I am looking for
an apprentice, an heir.
So, yes, who can go a week and keep their thoughts entirely pure? I'm sure there are some. But I am, so far, not one of them.
And then, these words, by Pema Chödrön from her book The Wisdom of No Escape:
"If we see our so-called limitations with clarity, precision, gentleness, goodheartedness, and kindness and, having seen them fully, then let go, open further, we begin to find that our world is more vast and more refreshing and fascinating than we had realized before. In other words, the key to feeling more whole and less shut off and shut down is to be able to see clearly who we are and what we’re doing."
Again, the word 'whole.' We are not just one thing, and it's okay to acknowledge that we can be both kind and at times hard or neglectful. That we can be gentle and good, but still have difficulty forgiving someone. That we can be completely imperfect and still be whole.
Every year or so on my previous blog, I had the tradition of sharing a Rilke quotation, which speaks to me still. It's a reminder for those of you reading this blog, but also for myself, for anyone who spends any time at all on the internet, reading blogs, scanning Facebook, and scrolling through Twitter and Instagram. Because we leave out so much. Of course we do. I honestly do not think you need to see the photos of the dog hair on my kitchen floor, my patchy lawn. And I don't think you need to hear about most of my ailments, my complaints, my sorrows.
"Do not believe that the person who is trying to offer you solace lives his life effortlessly among the simple and quiet words that might occasionally comfort you. His life is filled with much hardship and sadness, and it remains far behind yours. But if it were otherwise, he could never have found these words."
- Rainer Maria Rilke, from Letters on Life
I think it's fairly safe to assume that almost everyone has lived with some sorrows and sadness. I'm interested in finding my own solace in the search for light. I'm interested in taking the light I find and offering it as solace to others. It's what I have to give. Which I realize isn't necessarily that much and might not be exactly what you need.
As much light as there are in these pictures, there is more going on. There are dark shadows, blurry areas, bright joyful lights and colours. There are murky confusing webs and trailing ones. Some of the bells are loose and can ring, and others are caught, silent, in the webbing. The spider, of course, is nowhere to be seen.