Over Labor Day I spent 10 days on Cape Cod. I walked the dogs on the Provincetown beach every morning, marveling at the dishevelment the ocean tossed ashore each day. Lots of empty scallop shells, picked clean by the seagulls. But even messier: cracked, fragments of oysters, various clams, snails, crabs and smelly seaweed, a junkyard of the sea. And yet, as everyone knows who’s walked a beach, there was this awesome beauty and peacefulness at the same time.
During the days of these beach walks I was also re-reading the first book of our Wellspring year, A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer. Early on he says, “the wilderness constantly reminds me that wholeness is not about perfection…nature uses devastation to stimulate new growth, slowly but persistently healing her own wounds. Wholeness does not mean perfection: it means embracing brokenness as an integral part of life. Knowing this gives me hope that human wholeness – mine, yours, ours – need not be a utopian dream, if we can use devastation as a seedbed for new life.”
As I think about our kickoff Wellspring retreat coming up this Saturday, I take comfort in my beach memory as well as Palmer’s words. I so strive for and worry about not attaining perfection. What if this new group doesn’t like me? What if people don’t show up? What if the new listening exercise bombs? What if, what if…Apparently, I still have perfection confused with wholeness!
I like a meditation suggested by Judith Hanson Lasater in her book, A Year of Living Your Yoga:
“What do you want: perfection or wholeness? Often we strive for perfection. But perfection is unattainable, and striving for it limits us. Today sit quietly for a few minutes. As you breathe, imagine becoming a large container within which to hold your perfection and imperfection. When you can hold both, then you experience your wholeness.”
I will try to keep her words in mind as we welcome and embrace a new batch of folks for Wellspring. May we become a large container for one another!