Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Perfect Present

Recently I’ve been thinking about the notion of perfection. Although we tend to think of perfection as flawlessness, I wonder if a better definition of perfection is the fullest appreciation of the present moment.

I spent a quiet day yesterday at Green Bough House of Prayer. It’s a place I go when I need to hit the pause and reset buttons on my life. As I sat outside yesterday morning on the porch of the retreat house, anticipating the silence, a mockingbird war broke out in the yard in front of me. Fully distracting and plenty loud, three mockingbirds hissed at each other and flew at each other, fighting in midair. They did this over and over again. There was nothing quiet about this quiet space!

I could have gotten frustrated with the lack of quiet but instead I thought, “Perfection is being here, not having perfect silence.” Isn’t this true about many of life’s situations? Perfection could be having your grandchildren visit, even if your picnic is rained out. Or maybe it is putting up a batch of peach jam for Christmas gifts even though one jar doesn’t seal (that’s the one you get to eat). Or maybe it’s getting the garage cleaned out enough to get a car in it, but not completely empty.

When we can celebrate the present moment’s blessings instead of falling into the defeating attitude of “if only” thinking, that, to me, is perfection. Rejoicing in what is going right helps us to be light-bearers for Christ. When we wallow in regret and discontent, we extinguish the light of Christ within us.

Paul, even while imprisoned said, “Be glad in the Lord always. Again I say, be glad.” (Philippians 4:4) Certainly if perfection for him had been the ability to move freely in the world, he would have not been able to be so joyful. But Paul had the fullest appreciation of the present moment, and God’s presence in that moment. If Paul could be joyful in prison, what is holding us back from perfect joy?

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