March 1, 2021
I belong to a group called “The Holy Disorder of Dancing Monks,” a title that resonates with me because it breaks the mold of how the world sees “religion.” The people in this group are artists: writers, poets, painters, dancers, sculptors, songwriters, and more—anyone willing to embrace creativity–and we delight in letting THE Creator out of the box. We are “monks” in the sense that our creativity is dependent on our various contemplative and spiritual practices, all intended to bring beauty and joy into a dark and broken world.
One topic that often comes up is our indoctrinated quest for perfection. We hear it from our earliest ages: “Do your best,” and “Practice makes perfect.” Being human, however, at some point we run straight into the truth that it is impossible to do our best all the time, that we make mistakes, some with very serious consequences, and then we struggle with our sense of “enoughness” because for some of us, we feel we will never be enough. We will never live up to the expectations others have ingrained in us, or those we have ingrained in ourselves. We fear we cannot be loved if we are not perfect; perhaps we’ve even experienced rejection or betrayal when our imperfections revealed themselves. So we bear the brokenness, the cracks, from those experiences, and wonder how we can ever be whole again, how we can ever be loved again.
Too many of us have only heard of our sinfulness, our shame, and our guilt, as if these are all that define us. These seasons of atonement, like Lent, if we are not careful, can mire us in a sense of hopelessness: we will never be good enough to be loved. But what if we turn away from that thinking, what if we give up those false beliefs for Lent, for our lives, and we instead turn toward the Light that assures us we are indeed loved–wounds, fissures, and all?
No one is perfect. No one. And none of us ever will be perfect, thank God, literally. Instead, we are on a mutual journey of discovery that leads us to be gentle with our woundedness, our cracks, our imperfections. As singer, songwriter, and spiritual guide Leonard Cohen writes, “There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” These cracks can become the breeding ground of compassion and empathy, for ourselves and for others, and that ground becomes holy. We should all be walking around with bare feet! “Every heart to love can come, but like a refugee,” sings Cohen. Aren’t we all refugees seeking acceptance, belonging, love, and the assurance that we are, just as we are, “enough”? Punishment, shame, and fear will never move us along in our spiritual journeys; they are only control mechanisms to keep us stuck. Instead, we turn to Love, to the Light, to the Divine Source of our Being from which we were created who desires to shine in us, who desires to heal us, who desires to see us dancing in holy disorder.
This same Being offers you two gifts today. The first is a short parable about the beauty of brokenness. The second is the song Anthem by Leonard Cohen. May you listen to both with the ear of your heart and know that you are, indeed, enough. Blessings ~ Rosemary
The Parable of Two Flower Vases
“Let us suppose that there are two flower vases made of fine china. Both are intricately carved and of comparable value, elegance, and beauty. Then a wind blows, and one of them falls from its stand and is broken into pieces.
An expert from a distant land is called. Painstakingly, step by step, the expert glues the pieces back together. Soon the broken vase is intact again, can hold water without leaking, is unblemished to all who see it.
Yet this vase is now different from the other one. The lines along which it had broken, a subtle reminder of yesterday, will always remain discernible to an experienced eye.
However, it will have a certain wisdom, since it knows something that the vase that has never been broken does not: it knows what it is to break and what it is to come together again.”
Dr. Salman Akhtar in Broken Structures
Leonard Cohen, Anthem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8-BT6y_wYg