Saturday, August 6, 2011


Our priest is on sabbatical this summer, and he left a week or so ago to spend a week alone in the wilderness of the Sawtooth mountains. It was good to read today that he had safely completed his journey; but I noticed that in speaking of it he particularly mentioned the challenge of being alone with himself, saying one of the gifts of the time was learning to have a little compassion for himself.

I’m thinking any time we’re in a significantly different situation we have that opportunity – to watch how we behave, to see what triggers us, and where our minds go – and in that opportunity there’s always the potential for self-compassion. I’ve been particularly noticing that for myself here at camp; the number of times I’ve felt insecure or ill-at-ease; not certain what’s expected of me, or knowing without question I hadn’t quite lived up to expectations.

The challenge – for us perfectionists, at least – is to get better at knowing we are enough. It is enough that I made it to the ferry and had money to buy my ticket, even if I didn’t get there early enough to buy it in advance. It is enough to be an extra grownup and just fetch and carry, even if I can’t give specific guidance to budding potters.

It is enough to sit and sort out tangled threads when there’s no room at the table and two teachers already in place to guide the class. It is enough to smile and nod at familiar faces even if I can’t remember their names. And it was enough to keep a table of 9-year-old boys entertained, just by telling them no paper can be folded in half more than eight times; enough to help them learn to cut their chicken with a fork (and to do it for them when it was too tough).

Whatever I do here really is enough. Even if I’m exhausted from the travel and the tail end of a cold, I have something to offer – and it is enough.

Self-compassion. It’s knowing, deep down, that we didn’t just do the best we could do. We did ALL we could do. It was a noble effort.

And it was enough. Just like being able to look out my doorway and see my daughter’s tent… is enough.


Maureen said...

And what a marvelous feeling it is to be able to know and say: it's enough.

Thought of you this morning. The New York Times published a piece on Bainbridge Island's commemoration of memorial to the Japanese residents who were forced to leave there in WWII.

Gberger said...

Did you see the posting from CAC yesterday? It fit perfectly with this. The link didn't work, so here is the quote: "Leonard Cohen’s song, 'Anthem,' states in the refrain: 'There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.' That is a much more poetic way of naming what we unfortunately called “original sin”—a poor choice of words because the word sin implies fault and culpability, and that is precisely not the point! Original sin was trying to warn us that the flaw at the heart of all reality is nothing we did personally, but that there is simply 'a crack in everything' and so we should not be surprised when it shows itself in us or in everything else.

"The deep intuitions of most church doctrines are invariably profound and correct, but they are often expressed in mechanical and limited language that everybody stumbles over, denies, or fights. Hold on for a while till you get to the real meaning. That allows you to creatively critique things—without becoming oppositional, hateful, arrogant, and bitter yourself. Some call this 'appreciative inquiry' and it has an entirely different tone that does not invite or create 'an equal and opposite reaction.' The opposite of contemplation is not action; it is reaction. Much of the inconsistent ethic of life, in my opinion, is based on ideological reactions and groupthink, not humble discernment of 'how the light gets in.' Think about that for a while." - Adapted from "Spiral of Violence: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil"

We are all enough, and we are good - the way God made us.