Dear Ones- Recently I was reading an article about the actor, Elliot Page. In case you’ve been pre-occupied with other life-altering issues, Elliot Page recently came out to the world as transgender, and changed his name from “Ellen” to “Elliot”. He is featured on the cover of the March 29/April 5 issue of Time Magazine, under the caption: “I’m Fully Who I Am”. His announcement was, as is always the case with folks who choose to live their most authentic selves, an inspiring act of bravery.
Also, I just heard from a friend who would be traveling to the small town of their childhood for the funeral of a relative. My friend was lamenting that, with the passing of yet another relative, the stories of their childhood and more of their family’s history is now lost.
So, you may well ask, why am I throwing these seemingly random thoughts at you?
Well, our theme for the month of April is “Wholeness”, and, in my mind, these 2 tidbits are related to it. For Page, living a life of wholeness required bringing his “outside” reality to be in synch with his internal reality. It was an important step for him to be able to embrace more fully his “whole” being. He says it was “not only life-changing, but lifesaving”. My friend feels their history slipping away, that they now have a little less access to a connection to their ancestors- they are feeling a little less whole.
Living a completely authentically “whole” life, I suspect, is impossible. It’s a little like achieving “perfection”. On the one hand, becoming better in some way is a wonderful goal. But becoming “perfect” is not only unattainable, but both frustrating and unrealistic.
I’m willing to believe that, perhaps, the Buddha or Jesus may have achieved a state of complete “wholeness”. But even in their cases the stories told of them seem to suggest that they felt there were still things left undone (how to get your followers to actually do the things you tell them comes to mind). For the rest of us, though, actually achieving complete and absolute wholeness seems to remain a distant and unachievable goal.
So what, then is a more achievable goal for us mere mortals? It is my firm belief that a better goal might be “to recognize that we are on a journey toward wholeness”(with apologies to the UUA, which has a “Journey Toward Wholeness” program geared to ending White Supremacy). That goal would ask us to work toward achieving a life of balance, and being aware of doing so. It would acknowledge the joy and hope of life while recognizing the sorrow and despair inherent in it. It would see us living a life of both contentment and discontent, of striving and rest. It is acknowledging that we have within ourselves the capacity for both love and cruelty, of generosity and meanness. Working toward wholeness might mean trying to stay grounded, to try and stay focused on what is important in life, taking care of both our physical and spiritual needs, and nurturing relationships.
Clearly, that’s a lot to ask of a person and it seems to me that’s where community can help.
Being in community can let us know, first and foremost, that we are worthy of love and respect, even when we are not our best selves. Community can provide us with opportunities to listen to other points of view, expose us to other insights, challenge us to explore why we think and do the things we think and do. When we are being petty, it can remind us of the importance of generosity. When we are being thoughtless, it can remind us of the importance of being considerate. It can provide us with opportunities for service and to “get out of our own way”. It can remind us of our better selves, our higher aspirations, our more noble goals. In short, it is in community that we can help one another in our unique and individual journey toward wholeness.
At least, that’s my opinion. What do you think?
Wishing you peace and blessings,