Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Holy wholeness

Listen to this post:

I love it when single concepts, phrases or thoughts that haunt me, eventually intersect and intertwine, given enough time, to illuminate me. Take these, for example:

• The Bishop Desmond Tutu quote a Bloomington Quaker said had stuck with him.
There is no peace without reconciliation. There is no reconciliation without forgiveness. There is no forgiveness without giving up hope for a better past.*

That simple. salient idea is mind boggling – to me. In my dis-ease, that's really where I've been living. It seems natural in our woundedness to focus, even obsess, on changing what harmed us ... in the past. No wonder healing is so illusive. I just think I'm looking forward when I'm truly stuck wallowing in the unalterable. What if I let go?

• The words on the page of the intriguingly unfamiliar Jewish prayer book that reached into my soul during my daughter's and my first bat-mitzvah ceremony:

We become what we worship.
So if we worship the past, that's the only place we'll ever be. The same holds true for fixating on the cause of our wounds. However, there's great hope for transformation in opening our attention to what is mutable. Mostly, our attitudes and thoughts, eventually, surrendering them.

• My Quaker minister's message that the original (Greek) definition of sin means missing and, in another portion of her homily, that all of our parts are holy.

I would run from the word sin until I read Quaker author John Punshon's explanation as being out of sync with God. The idea of missing something rings true to me in the same sense. And the fact that all of the parts of ourselves are holy is a concept I am only lately learning to embrace. I have withheld my imperfection from God, but now understand surrender requires turning everything over.

• An insightful friend's response in ministry to that message of her veteran patient only coming to terms with a second amputation after hugging the "missing part" and sobbing. The spirit and soul of this broken body were glowing and powerful, she said.

When surrendered, God shows us holiness in our imperfection.

Together, this string of singly profound wisdom pushed out something deeper, which has been working in me for weeks:

If we worship
the brokenness
of the past,

We are missing
the mark
and not living
into our
holiness, wholeness

• How can I let go of the places I live in the past?
• What have I become as the result of what I truly worship?
• How does the idea of sin as missing change my perceptions?
• In surrendering to God the parts of myself I have withheld, how have I experienced my imperfection, my humanness, as holy?
• How can I live more fully into holiness, wholeness?

* In trying to verify that specific quote, I stumbled upon many attributions for the phrase "giving up hope for a better past," including Lily Tomlin and Anne Lamott


  1. I really enjoyed this post, and finding it was timely for me...I've been awakening a lot, of late, to the ways in which I've been recreating negative aspects from the past in the present by focusing on them, seeing so much through the lens of old wounds...this is a good prayer to remind me of my power in the moment; to help me accept my imperfection; to surrender more. Thank you!

  2. Seth, I appreciate your attention. Awareness is huge, isn't it? Glad you found this useful as well.
    -- Cathy