, Corbin, KY


November 8, 2013

The older I get the smaller things get

CORBIN — Dust has gathered on the window sill. My lawn is a little overdue for mowing and my car could use a cleanup. I can’t seem to get around to edging my walks or trimming my shrubs. The carpet should actually have been cleaned last year. I am used to wrinkles in my shirts. Spring with all its cleaning has not happened at my house for some 2-3 years.

All those things that used to be so important don’t seem to be any more. However, I do get around to them eventually. I am no longer bugged by them. They no longer grab me and hold me as a prominent, must-do obligation. I feel some liberties and new developing freedom.

The unrelinquishing quest for perfection in an imperfect world is releasing its grip on me. I seem to be drifting more toward spiritual perfecting — praying, reading, reflecting and being upset by the world’s sin and sufferings.

The obsession to “keep everything up,” looking and functioning with perfection — a lifetime and life-consuming agenda that never gets done — is now seen for what it is — an all-consuming disappointment of little lasting value.

I see a need to keep up some basic and respectable maintenance of our person and property, but perfection? It never happens! If we think we have reached it, wait until tomorrow. The polished job on the car or kitchen floor is never without some slight flaw or imperfection. Impeccable never quite lives up to its name.

As a preacher, professor and psycho-therapist, it was and is my duty to do my very best. It is my hope that this is true of my barber and my surgeon. Yet in spite of efforts no one reaches perfection. I’ve spent my generously long life trying to “perfect” the balance between what I am able do, and what I ought most to do.

I feel I am guilty with Martha, hearing Jesus say, “Martha, Martha (John, John) you are busy about many things but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better part.” [Luke 10:41, 42]

May we all come to learn that there is no need to sweat the small stuff. In my old age I have finally learned to think small.

The Rev. John Burkhart  Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of  psychology blog at inspirationsandideas


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