Putting arms around it all

Parker Palmer writes that “The only way to become whole is to put our arms lovingly around everything we’ve shown ourselves to be”. 

Today, I’m seeing this in a new light, discovering with more depth that I am loving and infuriating, disciplined and irresponsible, caring and wounding to others, easy-going and obsessive, thoughtful and forgetful. I can be vibrant, hurtful, boring, confusing, maddening, inspiring, unbelievably annoying, wildly unreasonable, spiteful, deceitful, trusting, dedicated, principled, forgetful, fierce, loving, lazy, generous. I can act with deep intelligence and astonishing stupidity, even when I am most dedicated to taking care of others, and of life.

Some years ago the idea that I needed to be perfect and always good started to undo (I wrote about that here, a year ago). Now, what seems to be crumbling is a project, often hidden to myself, that has me imagine I can always make sure people are ok around me. And as this crumbles I can see more clearly that my very being alive means that I cannot control how others around me will experience me or the things I do. People will be brought to life, inspired, but also frequently hurt and disappointed around me – simply because I am, and often as a direct consequence of what is most deeply loving and most fully alive in me.

The more I see and welcome about myself – my light and my darkness, my brokenness and my imperfection – the more here and whole I seem to be. The less ashamed. The less afraid. The more able to take responsibility and care for others. The less in denial about who and what I am. And, I hope, the more able to be with others in their broken, imperfect, wild and beautiful wholeness too.

I’m seeing what I can do to live with my arms wrapped around all of it.

5 thoughts on “Putting arms around it all

      • Justin, post is refreshingly honest. We might feel overwhelmed with the knowledge that no one can change the world singlehandedly but we can change our personal spaces, our families and if not our workplaces, the part we play in those workplaces. It all must start within each of us. It’s like the old Coke commercial without the sugar. “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony…”
        Delighted to be joining you next month at the workshop. Continued success to you.

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