Today, when people share their brokenness with me, my first goal is to create safe space where they can give voice to whatever they thought was unspeakable – and learn, in the words of theologian Paul Tillich, to “accept the fact that they are accepted.” My ultimate goal is to be able to say from the depths of my own human experience, “Welcome to the human race.”
– Parker J. Palmer*
This quote from one of Palmer’s essays in his most recent book touched me deeply. I wrote it in my journal and have continued to read it, again and again, and to see the many aspects of life – my own in particular – that it addresses. As a compassionate listener, I have reflected on the many wounds of life and the ways in which they carved out my early experiences and moved me through the evolution of the person that I am becoming…more and more.
The first word to catch my eye…and my heart…was brokenness. We each have parts of ourselves needing healing from brokenness of some kind – or many kinds. As I enter the Autumn and perhaps early Winter of my life, I know the importance of acknowledging our brokenness as a first step toward the acceptance and ultimately the healing of the wounds which underlie it.
His reference to Tillich’s quote, to “accept the fact that they are accepted” is so very important. As a compassionate listener for many years, I have heard and seen the challenge that this can be for so many who are hurting. When we feel we are not seen or heard by others, we may not feel worthy of acceptance – by others or even by ourselves. Our resistance to our own worthiness and acceptance of ourselves as we are keeps many of us running…for our lives. Unable to face ourselves, we distract ourselves with too much work, or too much physical activity, among many other distractions. We smile and create a story that keeps us moving, overdoing, over thinking, and unfamiliar with our essence…our very being.
Accepting ourselves as and for who we are is one of the most important gifts we give to all of us.
Welcome to the human race.
*from the essay, “Embracing the Human Frailty”, p.152; On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old