Above my desk I have pinned up the following quote:
“Forget your perfect offering.”
You may recognize this line from Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem and the line that follows is the often memed: “there is a crack in everything, that‘s how the light gets in.”
I am a big fan of Leonard Cohen’s music and poetry and when I listen it feels like all he offers is perfect. In Anthem he speaks of the imperfection of the human condition, and how it is through that imperfection that we find our redemption and our hope.
And such is the nature of Cohen’s work that in this song it also feels like he is speaking directly to me. And so, I listen and I am inspired.
Last year I was lucky enough to see the Leonard Cohen exhibition on it’s last day in Montreal. And one of the things that stood out to me was the story of how in order to have his poetry reach more people, to have his “voice” heard, (and indeed in order to continue to make a living writing poetry) he started putting his poetry to music and singing.
And – especially when he started – he was not a good singer. Video footage at the exhibition of some of his earliest forays into music were cringe-worthy, but even then he sang with joy and with a gentle, almost wise smile on his face, knowing his poetry was beautiful – and that we were finally listening.
Forget your perfect offering – even in a crowded exhibition hall – he seemed to speak directly to me.
He was generous enough to himself and his art to let himself fail.
He stepped out of his comfort zone to ensure that he was seen, that his “music” his poetry was heard. To ensure that he could continue doing the work that was his calling.
He took a risk, did something he wasn’t good at in order to offer…to offer.
And so I remind my perfectionist self, who is sneaky, pervasive and crippling, who would allow me to stagnate and die inside the walls of my house – a healer hiding in the attic – to forget about being perfect, to forget my perfect offering.
I print off Leonard’s words and tape them, yes scotch-tape them, to the wall by the window. Purposefully not framed in a Pinterest-worthy handwritten script on canvas – just imperfectly there. A reminder.
In this way I remember, to forget my perfect offering.
To just offer what I have to give, to step out and be seen – to speak, to write, to stand in the circle and be counted – to bring it and trust that those who need it will hear it, will feel the genuine vibration of my love rising from my imperfect hands. Hear the song rising from my broken and healing heart.
May you too know you have something to give – perhaps something you have long denied, or something you might let slip away – may you find a way to share it, imperfectly.
May you and I be brave enough to step beyond our comfort zones and sing.
The broken world needs all the love and light we have to offer.
Forget your perfect offering and bring what you have.
Bring it. It is enough.