This weekend, the sundial threw its shadow across the day I was born and hell if I didn’t have some sweet friends bringing the samba and buttercake.
This weekend Whitney Houston died.
I do not mention this to exploit the tragedy of that beautiful soul—but to keep it real that we had just come out of a celebration dinner feeling flush with laughter when we had to stand in a chill wind waiting for the taxi having just heard the sad news.
Anything can be used to wake up and breathe into the present moment: a new year, a new morning, a birthday, a death – a car accident, an almost accident—but the very best of all is love.
Love is the great transformer.
I’d love to say that I was a wonderful person and that over the past three days it was a gift to be around me because I brought silliness and laughter in spades. Truth is, I was more like a ticking bomb in a box with a bow. Parts of my worst side surfaced and I had to come face-to-face with aspects of my behavior, my attitude, my very way of being that are unkind, destructive and pessimistic.
It sucked. I don’t feel good about dragging my friends through that and I don’t feel good having to face my dark side.
And yet, the reason I cannot wish all that away is that because the opposite was equally true. We laughed hard, played silly, swam, beached and even danced around a labyrinth. I was encircled by good, true, deeply caring, highly intuitive friends who could see that this was as much an ending of the old as a beginning of the new.
Lucky for me, they’re wicked schmaht.
(Lucky for them I only have a birthday once a year).
There’s a section in John O’Donahue’s Beauty titled, “The Slow Work of Integrating the Flaw.” It resonates with me more deeply this morning than ever and I thought to share it with you.
Beauty’s light comes up slowly and shyly along the edges of limitation, confusion, anxiety and helplessness. In such a terrain one would expect anger, resentment, bitterness or destructive negativity. Yet a spirit and atmosphere of graciousness often emerges when the human heart reaches into its own nobility and allows the destructive reaction to disappointment and hurt to open into something more healing and creative.
Regardless of outer circumstances and even inner turbulence, we always have the freedom to choose differently.
This is a difficult freedom. In many instances, it may be beyond our reach. However, the freedom to choose graciousness is a freedom no one can take from us.
We will always dwell on the frontier of our own limitations and weakness.
Each of us is deeply flawed somewhere . . . life can take a wonderfully creative turning when we choose to integrate the flaw. . . . When we stop seeing the flaw as a disappointment and exception to an otherwise laudable life, we begin to glimpse the awkward light and hidden wisdom that the flaw holds.
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