LENT: Week four, Wedesday – Both/And
To pursue perfection because we despise our imperfections – to teeter at the extremes of self-love and self-loathing – is to find neither satisfaction in successes nor wisdom in failures. Life becomes a constant battle, a never-ending struggle to get somewhere, to achieve something, to produce something. Having split our world (and our selves) into either-or dualisms – god or beast, angel or devil, right or wrong, left or right, good or evil, up or down – we lack all sense of balance. We tend to sway precariously on the teeter-totter of life, running from one extreme to the other, missing the point that the only stable place to be is in the mixed-up middle. In reality, that is the only place we can be.
However we come to understand that there are necessarily both ups and downs in life, the same perspective reveals that within ourselves there is light within our darkness, good within our evil. In the spirituality of imperfection, we learn to accept that we are neither angel nor beast, for we are both.
Rabbi Bunam said to his disciples: “Everyone must have two pockets, so that he can reach into the one or the other, according to his needs. In his right pocket are to be the words: ‘For my sake was the world created,’ and in his left: ‘I am earth and ashes.'”
– From The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham