A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still, they plagued him.
Finally, he wrote the department of agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: “What shall I do now?”
In due course the reply came: “We suggest you learn to love them.”
And Anthony de Mello continued…
I too had a lawn I prided myself on, and I too was plagued with dandelions that I fought with every means in my power. So, learning to love them was no easy matter.
I began by talking to them each day. Cordial. Friendly. But they maintained a sullen silence. They were smarting from the war I had waged against them, and they were suspicious of my motives.
But it wasn’t long before they smiled back. And relaxed.
Soon we were good friends.
My lawn, of course, was ruined.
But how attractive my new garden became!
This does my heart good. It is about the life-giving freedom of being at home in our own skin.
It’s never been easy for me to admit (or embrace and own) blemishes or blights. (You know, “my dandelions”.)
I have been in quandaries where tears freely flowed, and here’s the irony; I spent my energy attempting to explain the tears away (or ashamed, trying my best to hide them).
So. Learning to love those parts of me was no easy mater.
But I began by talking to them each day.
And now, we are good friends.
Gratefully, now, I’ve been more comfortable with those parts of me… the live-giving vulnerable parts. To not be afraid of those parts, that seem soft or unprotected (or whatever we label as weak or fragile).
Yes. At home in our own skin, there is freedom to know that life (wonder, savoring, awe, gratitude, connection, gooseflesh) is not what happens only after all is unblemished and picture perfect.
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.” Madeleine L’Engle
This week, the invitation to be at home in our own skin.
No, this is not easy where brokenness is real. Especially when we’ve swallowed the notion that only perfection counts.
So. This is a good time to remember two Japanese aesthetics.
The first, Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese method of repairing broken porcelain, using gold to fill the cracks. (Also known as Kintsukuori, which translates “golden joinery.”)
The Kintsugi artisan uses gold (or other precious metal) mixed with epoxy to repair the broken piece. Okay, this really does my heart good; the gold now emphasizes, rather than hides, the breakage. Yes, the gold honors the beauty of imperfection, and now, that beauty spills.
It’s Marcel Proust’s reminder, “My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.” So, my value is not about where I should arrive (needing to pretend that the cracks do not exist or will be covered up), but honoring and living into the true value deep down. At our core. Yes. At home in our own skin.
The second, Wabi-sabi, a Japanese worldview that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the cycle of growth and decay.
Wabi is about recognizing beauty in humble simplicity. It invites us to open our heart and detach from the vanity of materialism so we can experience spiritual richness instead.
Sabi is concerned with the passage of time, the way all things grow, age, and decay, and how it manifests itself beautifully in objects. It suggests that beauty is hidden beneath the surface of what we actually see, even in what we initially perceive as broken. (Thank you to Omar Itani.)
What I love about Kintsugi and Wabi-sabi is that they both invite us to live in the present moment. To appreciate the simple, and yes, transient stages of life’s journey. To be here now.
To embrace slow and simple (and yes, imperfect), where we feel the joy of what it means to be alive—present with all of its imperfections.
Permission to immerse yourself into the fabric of this day and savor it for what it is: The joy of watering your flowers in the morning, the joy of falling leaves, the joy of clouds skittering, joy of reading a book on a porch swing, the joy listening to soft rain, the joy of watching a sinking sun—the beauty found in everything that is alive.
“Put simply, wabi sabi gives you permission to be yourself. It encourages you to do your best but not make yourself ill in pursuit of an unattainable goal of perfection. It gently motions you to relax, slow down and enjoy your life. And it shows you that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places, making every day a doorway to delight.” Beth Kempton (Wabi Sabi, a Japanese Wisdom for a Perfect Imperfect Life)
At home in our own skin.
That’s our invitation. Let us pause. And see, that life-giving beauty is found in the gifts of the daily, the simple offerings, the fragile beauty of the impermanent, and the unexpected spirit of the imperfect.
This is one of Autumn’s gifts to us.
And this poem about such gifts, from Fabiana Fondevila, goes straight to my heart.
In the Garden
There is truth in the garden and it’s speaking in tongues.
There’s steadiness in the rocks
sitting in the sun,
saying how peace is easy
if you know how.
There are murmurings of sweetness in the apple tree
filling up roundly
There’s zeal ripening in the tomatoes
and purpose in the pumpkin vine
trampling its way to freedom.
There is inner city grit in the hydrangea
struggling to bloom
in its chewed up dress and tortured feet.
There is grace in the grass that was cut
to an inch of its life
and will not stop stretching upwards.
There is no pause in the pine tree,
too big for its pot
and strumming with life,
in its half-meter kingdom.
Only green and growing
Whatever is speaking
here knows its art.
Wanderlust and bloodshed,
audacity and awe.
I want to speak that language
I’m writing this today on Crescent Beach (Salt Creek Recreation Area) above Olympic National Park. And yes, it is far away from the noise, and good for the blood pressure. And the soul.
I look across the Salish Sea at Vancouver Island, and if I squint my eyes, and look to the right, I can see Victoria.
The waves are big enough to attract a few surfers. Who knew?
The beaches here in the Pacific Northwest, are a gallery for driftwood. Some of it assembled into sculptures, and shelters. And each old log, with a story to tell.
Looking down the beach, it’s easy to call it driftwood helter-skelter. However, I’m telling you, this is art (craftsmanship and virtuosity) at is finest. Nature teaching us what it means to be at home in our skin.
Of course, we are easily derailed when instead of seeing beauty, we see only the labels—strewn or debris—and we forget the “at home in our skin” which embraces and holds both the whole and the broken, both the exquisite and the “imperfection” and yes, the heartbreak.
In his book, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey toward an Undivided Life, Parker Palmer writes, “The wilderness constantly reminds me that wholeness is not about perfection. On July 4, 1999, a twenty-minute maelstrom of hurricane-force winds took down twenty million trees across the Boundary Waters. A month later, when I made my annual pilgrimage up north, I was heartbroken by the ruin and wondered whether I wanted to return. And yet on each visit since, I have been astonished to see how 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.”
At home in our own skin. Gratefully, the permission to hold opposites.
And grateful for Joyce Rupp’s reflections this week, “Macrina Wiederkehr’s oft-quoted line: ‘Joy and sorrow are sisters. They live in the same house.’ Reflecting on living in this world of opposites, I wrote: Sometimes the sisters quarrel when sorrow won’t stop crying, but almost always joy understands. She wraps her arms around sorrow and repeats often, ‘I’m here for you.’ And how glad joy is on those rare days when sorrow allows her to join in a walk in the woods, reading a good novel, having a talk with a supportive friend, or listening to the beauty in a piece of music.
Joy and sorrow are sisters—they plan to go on living in the same house, knowing how each helps the other. Sorrow softens the too-hurried steps of joy, draws her beyond her self, toward more empathy for others. And sorrow, well, we know how sorrow requires the companionship of joy to balance her heartaches and keep her from being disheartened. What beautiful sisters they are to one another, these two living in the same heart.”
And so grateful to Sabbath Moment reader Lindsay Leaman. We’ll give her the last word, “There are also Native American needlepoint designers who always leave an empty space (usually one stich size) in the border so that the bad energy can leave, and the good energy has a way in… just sayin…”
Prayer for our week…
We see signs of summer’s passing in golden leaves,
shortening days, misty mornings, autumn glow.
We sense its passing in rain that dampens,
winds that chill, Harvest’s bounty placed on show.
Creator God, who brings forth
both green shoot and hoar frost,
sunrise and sunset,
we bring our thanks
for seeds that have grown,
And, as your good earth rests
through winter’s cold embrace,
we look forward to its re-awakening
when kissed by Spring’s first touch.
Photo… “Bees were busy among the dahlias on this last day of summer as I sauntered through the Bellevue Botanical Gardens (Washington). Thank you for reminding me to pay attention to the little things on my daily walks. Blessings,” Jo Kirschner… Thank you Jo… And I’m so grateful for your photos, please send them to email@example.com