“While at the beach you decide to write a message in a bottle. What would it say? Who would you like to find it?’
Wow! My hands are small for a man but they are not small enough to “write a message in a bottle” so this prompt is a tough one. How much could you even write, and who could read it? Instead of getting out a blue pencil to edit this prompt or to write a nasty letter to the editor who approved the prompt I will try to write about what I think was the intended prompt.
Instead of writing something original I would write a message using lines from a Leonard Cohen song Anthem,
“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack, a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in….”
These lines startled me the first time I heard them. I am so sensitized by the rituals of my faith tradition that the words “make a perfect offering” are impossible to eradicate from my memory. We always talk about the “perfect offering”… Leaving aside the theology for a moment I had to wonder for a moment if a world so obviously imperfect could ever offer anything that was perfect, or even if it was healthy to try.
We are conditioned to say “I am not perfect, nobody is” but do we really believe it? Don’t we secretly always imagine ourselves, and others, progressing, or capable of progressing to something better than we are at the moment? We can say ‘accept them for who they are” but do we really mean it or would be prefer that what ‘they’ brought to us was a bit more perfect? How much unhappiness has been experienced by those of us who cannot not live with ourselves or the offerings we are able to make?
I wonder if accepting imperfection is a path to compassion and mercy?
“Ring the bells that still can ring,” is an easier idea to comprehend. I am old enough and battered enough to admit that all of the bells I could once ring are not available to me and never will be again. In time, all of my bells will be silenced so doing what I still can do, no more and no less, is an idea that appeals to me.
I have never had a problem identifying the ‘cracks’ in the world, or in myself. I have had a bigger problem accepting them in myself, others, and in the general state of the world. Maybe one of the bells I can still ring involves developing more compassion and acceptance of myself and others?
And the line “that’s how the light gets in”? I find that line tremendously comforting. It is comforting because I know that if I was capable of making the perfect offering, I would be not be in need of light or more properly, “the Light” and that seems an impossibility.
These three lines that would be my message in a bottle would be another way of saying “Quit trying to be perfect, it’s impossible. Accepting yourself and others, cracks and all, is your only chance to walk in light”.
Who would I like to find and read such a message? That’s easy. All of us, all of us…..