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Wholeness and Love

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Spirituality of Imperfection: Week 2

Wholeness and Love
Friday, July 29, 2016

Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection. Divine perfection is the ability to recognize, forgive, and include imperfection—just as God does with all of us. Only in this way can we find the beautiful and hidden wholeness of God underneath the passing human show. I like the way David Benner explains this in CAC’s journal Oneing. Benner writes:

Spare me perfection. Give me instead the wholeness that comes from embracing the full reality of who I am, just as I am. Paradoxically, it is this whole self that is most perfect. As it turns out, wholeness, not perfection, is the route to the actualization of our deepest humanity.

Inconsistencies, imperfections, and failures to live up to ideals are all part of what it means to be human. What seems to distinguish those who are most deeply and wholly human is not their perfection, but their courage in accepting their imperfections. Accepting themselves as they are, they then become able to accept others as they are.

The richness of being human lies precisely in our lack of perfection. This is the source of so much of our longing, and out of that longing emerges so much creativity, beauty, and goodness. With appropriate openness and humility, it is the cracks that let in the light. Once those cracks and flaws are embraced and accepted as part of the self, then, and only then, can the light flow out though them, into the lives of others and into the world. This is Henri Nouwen’s “wounded healer”—one who mediates healing, not in spite of personal wounds, but precisely because of them. [1] It is our humanity, not our pseudo-perfection, that allows us to both receive and pass on what Christians call grace—the goodness that flows into our lives from beyond.

The harmonic of the universe is wholeness, not perfection; more specifically, it is wholeness that involves differentiation. . . . Living wholeness is participating in the dynamism of love that gathers everything together into greater unity and consciousness. It is to live with an openness of mind and heart, to encounter others, not as strangers, but as parts of one’s self. When we enter into the heart of love in this way, we enter the field of relatedness and come to know our truest and deepest belonging and calling.

Wholeness and love are inseparable. Love leads to larger wholes and there is no true wholeness that is not built on love. In the words of Ilia Delio, “Our challenge today is to trust the power of love at the heart of life, to let ourselves be seized by love, to create and invent ways for love to evolve into a global wholeness of unity, compassion, justice, and peacemaking.” [2] [3]

Gateway to Silence:
When I am weak I am strong.

[1] Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society (Doubleday: 1972).
[2] Ilia Delio, The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love (Orbis Books: 2013), xxv.
[3] David G. Benner, “Perfection and the Harmonics of Wholeness,” “Perfection,” Oneing, Vol. 4, No. 1 (CAC: 2016), 61-63. This article was adapted from David G. Benner, Human Being and Becoming (Brazos Press: 2016).

Adapted from Richard Rohr, Yes, And . . . Daily Meditations (Franciscan Media: 2013), 374.