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!

Life In a Fog

The fog is rolling

The fog is rolling (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

Life in a Fog

Sometimes life seems to be a series of crashes. Our lives crash and collide into those of others around us. We disagree about things large and small. We cling to our notions of how things must be. When someone offers a different viewpoint, we are convinced that they are somehow wrong. What I have observed over the years is that the problem has less to do with specifics and much more to do with a state of perpetual fog in which we often find ourselves existing.

Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia, fog was a frequent reality. Generally speaking, folks understood that when the “fog was as thick as pea soup”, a change in travel plans was indeed indicated. Especially if traveling at night was a consideration….double the peril- fog and darkness…..

So it is with things of the Spirit. When we discern with our human eyes rather than with our spiritual eyes, we typically have a very limited field of vision. It is much like trying to see through a thick fog. God, on the other hand, sees all. He is aware of ‘the big picture” that we fail to grasp. He is aware of how our lives intersect with all of those around us. He is aware of how each person’s holy calling is meant to affect the lives of others and what role each person plays in accomplishing His intended results. We make a mess of things when we fail to understand that it is God who must be The Light from the lighthouse which guides us through the fog. When we cling to our own ideas of rightness, our own priorities, our own definitions of success and what it must look like, our insistence on having it our own way, we are in essence refusing to let God guide us out of the fog that is much of human interaction. This refusal to be lead by His Light has a devastating effect on our hearts, minds, emotions, and interactions with one another.

When we find ourselves involved in situations of discord with others, a change of travel plans may be indicated. Perhaps we need to sit it out in the harbor a bit longer. Perhaps we need to consult with the Maker of the Stars to chart a safer course. Perhaps we need to study our Map of Life for wisdom and courage before be set sail. And always, always- we need to keep our eyes fixed on the Light that sees all, guides benevolently, and will never fail to lead us home safely. If we can but trust, He will cause the fog to dissipate, and we will once again be able to see clearly- with the eyes of the Spirit, rather than with our earthly eyes. The result of which is that we no longer crash about into one another, but rather, sail smoothly, according to His divine sexton, arriving at His intended destination. Amen.