Perfect Imperfection

Perfect Imperfection

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!

The Ocean and the Pond

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since there is no official governing body over Earth. The flag holds a photo transfer of a NASA image of the Earth on a dark blue background. It has been associated with Earth Day. Although the flag was originally copyrighted, a judge ruled that the copyright was invalid. Earth Flag Ltd. v. Alamo Flag Co., 154 F. Supp. 2d 663 (S.D.N.Y. 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ocean and the Pond

“One of the religion scholars came up.” Mark 12:28

At times when I have been attending various conferences or seminars, I become aware of men who are wise, or more accurately, those who think they are. Every person I encounter sees themselves as a scholar of something. Of course, most of my experience has been with those who see themselves so in some area of religion: language, liturgy, denominations. Then there are the alternative scholars who are experts at history, language, anthropology, the arts, ancient cultures to name just a few. The list is endless. Most scholars will tell you very quickly about their field of expertise.

However, every person’s knowledge or understanding of any subject is like a pond. It represents a body of knowledge. But the size, length, breadth and depth are limited by geography. From a given perspective along the edge, it may seem vast. However, a little probing or shifting of vision to the right or left quickly reveals the limitation of its ability to hold its contents by borders or bottom. Some indeed may seem to stretch out of sight, but this is only by virtue of our inability to walk along the perimeter the entire distance.

The ocean, by contrast, is like the cosmos compared to a spec. Standing beside the pond, no matter how large, once you’ve seen the ocean, you can never imagine the pond to be very large and never again would you think that the pond held a great volume of water. The scholars, who think of themselves as such, have not visited the ocean of God’s mind. They become so lost in the illusion of the expanse of their pond that tales of the ocean seem to them as idle chatter…..

Those who excitedly return from the ocean bring tales of vast beaches and endless horizons, with the understanding that no matter how far you walk or how high your vantage point, the limit of its reach, the deepest depths of it cannot be found. To the pond dwellers, those who have seen the ocean appear to be fools. Nothing will ever convince them of the errors of their thinking until they visit the ocean. You must leave the pond behind in order to do this. Evangelism is all about helping people to experience the ocean! Amen.