Patrick ONeill Rosslyn Hill Chapel Unitarian

 

A Sunday morning homily from a Unitarian minister with a deep appreciation for the power of failure, Rev. Patrick O’Neill, whose recent sermon “The Blessings of Imperfection” shared eloquent perspectives often told through imagery and stories. He starts with the story of wheel with missing piece…

  • “The lesson of the story, suggests Harold Kushner, is that in some strange sense we human beings are more whole when we are incomplete. When we are missing something. People who have everything are in some ways the poorer for that. For they will never know what it feels like to yearn, to hope, to nourish their souls with the dream of something better…There is a missing piece to this life of ours. Like a small absence left in every human heart since time began. Like a memory vaguely recalled, like a dream vaguely imaginedThere is a missing piece to this life of ours that is at once the object and the cause of our human search for meaning. Whereas we are aware of our human imperfection, understanding as we do the limitations of our fallible and too mortal nature, we are all of us out here rolling and bumping along as best we can seeking to fill in the holes in our lives with as much understanding and knowledge and love as we can accumulate, as we can share, as we can give back to each other. And here is the paradox and irony in which we live and in which we must find our balance in life. We are creatures ever in search of our own wholeness looking always for that missing piece in our lives…We strive for wholeness knowing that wholeness in this world is an unachievable ideal. We strive for perfection knowing full well that perfection is not attainable. As Benjamin Hooks once put it, ‘The tragedy in life in life doesn’t lie in not reaching our goals. The tragedy in life lies in having no goals to reach. It isn’t calamity to die with one’s dreams still unfulfilled. It is a calamity never to have dreamt.”

 

The title of his talk is taken from Peter Fleck, ‘The Blessings of Imperfection’ from which is shares another story about the ‘green hunters bag’. It is a story the reminds us that one of the most fatal ways to kill a dream is for it to come true. It tells of a hunter who fantasizes about one day having a special green hunting bag. He regales in thinking about what it would be like, its texture, it’s colour. But when friends finally give him one, he is deflated…

 

  • “It’s not quite as green as I have imagined it…All of us at time have experienced the disappointment upon the fulfilment of an ardent wish. The stream is not quite as clear as we had imagined it, the sea is not quite as blue, the mountains are not quite as overpowering, our families are not quite as happy.”
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