The Beauty of Imperfection

The primary cause of mental illness, Karl Menninger said, is the inability of people to forgive themselves for being imperfect. Those words came from Frank Griswold, the former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, preaching at Saint Luke’s this morning. He was speaking of St. Paul, who sought famously to perfect himself through a rigorous…

Never Too Late to Love

“It is never too late to love.” That’s what a good friend told me this week. I was telling her of a kind of break-through: I had learned to love someone a little better, to forgive someone (and pardon myself as well). It felt good, but almost immediately I thought, “I wish I had come…

The Birthday Cigarette

On Sunday the singer-song writer Leonard Cohen turned 80. While his friends and family were lighting the candles on his cake, Mr. Cohen was lighting a cigarette. A year ago he promised that when he turned 80 he would start smoking again after thirty years. Why not? If you’ve made it this far, you can…

Breathing with the Dolphin

“Remember to breathe.” I often say this to people under stress—whether it’s distress or eustress. It’s something I have to tell myself. We don’t have to think to breathe. If we did, we’d fall asleep at night and suffocate in our beds. But like all gifts, autonomic breathing also holds liabilities. We can go months,…

Lessons in Stone

If you want to know what beauty is and how it is created in this life, build a simple stone wall. When I decided to build two low stone walls on either side of the driveway into our home in Pennsylvania, I went in search of stone. I wished for a truck that would drop…