So, wow. Just, wow.
I’m at a retreat in Baltimore, just 3 miles from my house, staying in a hotel with 23 other amazing women. I’m taking the course, Sacred Success, led by the wonderful Barbara Stanny.
Today we talked about our Life Purpose and I was in full-on geek out mode. This is the stuff I live for and to be around people who will geek out with me is total bliss! As one of our exercises, Barbara sent us off on our own for 45 minutes to find our “life theme” in a quiet, contemplative walk. We were asked to photograph things if they caught our fancy, and as a photography lover, I eagerly embraced the task.
I am a collector and lover of beautiful things. I’m constantly distracted by the things around me, often slamming on my breaks when I’m driving in the country when I see something that moves me. Possibly unsafe, but when the moment strikes, I just can’t help myself. I vividly remember a walk I took with a boyfriend when I was 23, and I remember saying, “All I want to do all day is find all the beautiful things. I wish someone would pay me for that.” I look for beauty everywhere and in everyone. It brings me total joy.
So as I began my walk today, I started hunting for anything that caught my eye. I started by taking pictures of flowers, a leaf with water droplets. Beautiful. Then I found myself meandering down a brick path. I was taking in the deep reds of the brick, the gray of the mortar and the green of the surrounding grass. Then I noticed a broken brick and paused. This one was different, more colorful. It had more cracks and variation. It was broken, but in its brokenness, there was a beauty that the unmarred bricks lacked. This one was beautiful because of its imperfection.
So I kept looking and I found more broken bricks, cracked bricks. I had found my theme.
I moved on and saw a fountain made of concrete. More cracks. A hole. How perfectly beautiful. Rusted metal. More bricks, some concrete. Then, the roses. Oh, my goodness, the roses. I have always appreciated a beautiful, perfect, fragrant rose. I have never, however, paused to look at a dying rose. I’ve either thrown it out or passed it over to look for the “perfect” one. Here, however, was utter beauty. The variation of shape and color was astounding. It was amazing at how beautiful these imperfect and dying roses were, and how they were delighting my senses.
This walk became a metaphor for my life and for the work that I now do. Finding the beauty in the dark places and bringing them into the light. I spent most of my life shaming the parts of me that I deemed imperfect. Hiding them. Negating them. Trying to change them and eliminate them. Most of us do this. We are so ashamed of the shadow sides of ourselves, thinking ourselves abnormal, wrong or broken.
But we are stunningly beautiful because of our cracks and colors. We are outrageously gorgeous in our imperfections. They are part of us, and they are beautiful. They are what make us unique, human, and whole. These parts of us deserve love and attention. They deserve a pause. And they deserve to see the light, to be appreciated and assimilated so that we feel complete. Once we can learn to love all sides of ourselves, we will cease feeling divided, as though we have two sides: good and bad. There is just us, who we are, human. We are perfect and glorious in our imperfection.
With so much love,