CELEBRATION OF IMPERFECTION

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Yesterday, as I was carefully mowing the lawn, I kept noticing geranium petals falling on the slightly cleaner mass of green grass (don’t think manicured lawn a la beautiful English estates). A bit frustrating as they seemed like leftovers who were spoiling the work I had done.

I was reminded that this would have been an intentional artefact as part of a zen botanic landscape. Wabi sabi is an ancient aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony, a ritual of purity and simplicity in which masters prized bowls that were handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze, cracks, and a perverse beauty in their deliberate imperfection. The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what’s natural, flaws and all.

Perfectionism is an unattainable pursuit and perfectionists are a pain to live with. Yet often many of us fall into that trap. Some do it out of a sense of insecurity or simply trying to please someone that might never be satisfied anyway.

There is somehow a beautiful freedom in an imperfect life. It gives others permission to be be imperfect too and it is a fertile ground for humility and grace – relying on God rather than ourselves.

I remember reading a story about an old Orthodox senior monk shocking his fellow younger apprentices one evening at the dinner table. The monks would observe very strict dietary fasts that often exclude luxurious items of  food such as sugar, meat and oil. After their prayer before an evening meal as they sat down, the old respected senior monk (starets) pulls a little bottle of oil and uses a tiny drop on the food. As they were all in disbelief, one plucked up the courage and enquired about the apparent ‘faux pas’. The older monk explained how that drop of oil will keep him humble from bragging that he kept the fast with such valiancy.

The apostle Paul battled the frustrating imperfections of his life – yet learned that he was at his strongest in his weakness – utterly dependent on God’s grace.The same is true for me and you…

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