WORDS WITH WINGS
Thirty years ago I had the great good fortune to join up with Ernie Kurtz to write The Spirituality of Imperfection. To say that this book changed my life is a serious understatement. In truth, writing the book with Ernie turned me inside out and upside down. I learned that the doors of spirituality are open to all; that acknowledging and accepting our imperfections — and the flaws and shortcomings of others — paves the pathway to honesty, compassion, and community; and that “wisdom” or “teaching” stories have wings that allow them to return to us again and again, each time bringing gifts that expand our gratitude for the wonder and beauty of life itself.
Ernie and I wrote two books together and between them, we told and re-told close to 500 stories. These stories, and more that I discovered along the way, are of the “Aha!” “HaHa!” and “Ahhh…” variety. In other words, they make us think, reflect, laugh, cry, and, at times, experience a sudden, almost overwhelming sense of awe and wonder. They are much more than “feel good” stories because their purpose, throughout the ages, is to help us “be good” in the sense of developing a deeper understanding of the age-old spiritual values of humility, tolerance, gratitude, and forgiveness. I think of these stories as little winged things that rest on my shoulders and whisper to me, keeping me company when I feel lost or alone and slowly shifting my perspective so that I can see life and my own problems in a new and different way. You will understand what I mean as you read the stories and as they work their little miracles in your own life.
I will continue to add stories on a regular basis. There are so many of them, and I feel a great obligation to pass them along. If you would like to know the original source of a particular story, just send me an email and I promise to respond but remember that no one “owns” these stories for they are part of the great and timeless literature of humankind. They belong to no one and everyone. Keep the storytelling tradition alive and give them away for you never know when someone might need them. If you don’t “get” a story the first time you read it, that’s just fine; the story will come back to you when you are ready for it. I know that sounds strange but it’s happened to me so many times that I don’t doubt its truth (and I remember Ernie thundering at me when I asked him to “explain” a story for stories, as he taught me, are experiences unique to each hearer and teller). Finally, the "titles” I offer are not intended as interpretations of the story — for no one can interpret a story’s meaning for you — but only as markers to help you find a favorite tale.