The Truth of Our Perfection
I still carry shame. After all the work I've done with others, still....perhaps always....I have my own shame. In the first light of dawn my husband takes his powerful hand and guides my own to my breasts. He says, "...these beautiful breasts that have nursed two strong boys into the world, the soft skin and curves of this belly and the marks on it are proof of your full womanhood...tell me you see how beautiful you are."
And oh the waves that wash over me, stinging my desire to simply love everything about myself without imposed stories or expectations. Somehow, it is almost more unbearable to see this body, my body, as beautiful, as a mirror reflection of the perfection of the life I witness, the next day, as I sit and watch the flickers, squirrels, finches, starlings and woodpeckers flutter and feed in cacophonous vibrant choreography outside our kitchen window. I would never question the perfection of these ones. And yet, staring at the geography of my strong woman's body, always more than game for anything I desire to experience, it is like Yeats's "terrible beauty". The grief that wells up in me, for my own betrayal, is sharper than the pain of the shame itself.
How do we ever apologize for the dismissals we make of our instinct, our bodies' needs, our beautiful longing? And how do I admit that, in my human-ness, I will continue to dismiss and ignore my perfection over time, some days more than others. It would be fraud to promise that, from this day forward, I'll look into the mirror and see only wonder. On some days I will see stretchmarks and skin that has lost its resilience. There will be nights when all I can acknowledge are my failures. And rather than see these failures as glorious signs that I'm fiercely on my path, I will see them as symptoms of my general incompetence. I will continue to weave and illustrate the old stories of my own small worth and the ones of me who are so heavily invested in my smallness will say, "yes....we are still here. You won't get rid of us that easily."
But I know, because I have tracked this over my 45 years, that slowly but surely over time, if we are sincere and loving in our invitations, the wounded ones who hold these stories of our worthlessness, come out of their hiding places and into the light of day. They lay down their shields and swords, throw off their helmets and breastplates and in their innocence and nakedness weep for the smallness they've insisted upon as surrogates for other people's pain. Our own truth - the stuff we're each born with - the play and humor, reverence and awe, imagination and brilliance all flood back home and the process of wholing, of voracious integration, is unadulterated ecstasy. It is both utterly humbling and empowering and we stand ready to listen to our true calling - the reason we came into the world.
But in the spirit of truth-telling, of honoring the stories of both greatness and smallness, I will promise one thing. Tonight, when my husband moves himself on top of me, gazes down and breathes a breath of awe at what he sees, I will not close my eyes. I will breath awe with him; for his beauty, for the beauty that is larger than either of us that moves through us in our love making and for the specific beauty that dwells within me, without which the world will not be whole.