Not everything in nature is lovely. I recently noted a very old gnarled tree. There was little symmetry and no beauty to it at all. There were several dead branches marring it’s appearance and mistletoe, a parasite, leeching the life away from the tree growing near the top. This tree was in a word- ugly.
Yet in an odd way, it was exactly the tree’s imperfections which caught my attention and made me stop and notice it in the first place. It was the tree’s unusual appearance which made it arresting to look at. Certainly things of perfection, such as a perfectly manicured lawn, are beautiful as well. But oh how much more lovely is sweeping field filled with clover and wildflowers! The towering ancient gnarled tree! The cactus in bloom in the violent desolation of the desert! The perfect lawn pales in comparison to these!
People, in general, seem to prefer the perfection of the manicured lawn to the wild, unpredictable asymmetry of nature. We insist on conformity to our image of manicured people in our circle of friends, neighbors, or church family. We perhaps do not adequately appreciate the amazing variety and unexpected eccentricities that God has built into his human Kingdom. Just as He built the unexpected into nature, He has also done in his crowing glory- the children He calls His own! We are all creatures of wondrous variety.
The temptation we must resist is that of attempting to turn each field of clover we encounter into a well manicured lawn. When we approach our neighbor with the intention of cutting clear all that we do not understand or appreciate, and then implant our own weedkiller and fertilizer, we risk altering their own unique essential being. We may tell ourselves that this is for the greater good, but it is still interfering with God’s perfect creation. Think of it this way. How incredibly boring would a world full of nothing but perfectly manicured lawns as far as the eye can see be? How incredibly boring would our lives be if they were peopled by nothing but perfectly manicured and conformed people? Let us instead look at each other with the eyes of God who created and sustains both nature and human beings in all their perfect imperfection. Amen!