Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Holy Imperfections


It’s been a challenging few days. I sent out an incorrect link in my “welcome to the Advent retreat” email…and it took me a day to figure that out. Then some Windows update deleted Bluetooth from my computer, and the fixes aren’t working, so we had to find an older mouse for me to use (fortunately, Henry doesn’t throw anything away!). In addition, someone had an accident and injured her leg, causing a group of three people to cancel our trip to Israel in January. We were still trying to find two more people to make the trip work (and the tour managers were gracefully giving us time to do that) but the loss of three meant the entire cancellation of the trip.

I could put a rosy spin on that last part, saying that at least we have clarity now (except, of course, I feel terrible for the person who hurt her leg!). But today, at least, I’m not inclined toward trying to hunt down rose-colored glasses. I’m disappointed that we won’t be leading a group to Israel. I’m tired, I’m sad, I’m ready for some more rest—despite the fact that I had a lovely, relaxing vacation in California last week.

Sitting down to write this post, I looked up at the calendar across from my desk and felt myself drawn into the landscape pictured there. A waterfall flows down a series of rocks to land in a pool, surrounded by quintessential fall foliage. It’s a “perfect” picture—but what drew my attention was the recognition that the imperfections in the series of rocks were what allowed the waterfall to descend in such an interesting fashion, filled with varying layers of white and charged with energy. Without those rock steps, each its own shape and size, the waterfall would have just been a clear creek, noiselessly descending the hillside.

DSC_9110It is the imperfections which make that photo work, and which draw us into the landscape. You can get a sense of what I mean with this photo, from my own collection, although it’s missing the vibrant autumn colors. Without the imperfect jumble of rocks, the waterfall would simply be a calm flow…not nearly as nice on the ear, or intriguing to the eye.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that imperfections like these—even mistakes and software bugs—make our days holy. If every day was “perfect,” we would come to take it all for granted, and miss the beauty inherent in the imperfections. So I’m ready to admit that I’m tired, that things aren’t going perfectly, and that disappointments happen. Those are rocks on the flow of life, creating an eye-catching waterfall that I can still appreciate, even from my place in the midst of it.

There will also be imperfections in the upcoming flow of The Holidays, for all of us. I invite you to join me in accepting them as part of life, and taking moments in the days ahead to recognize the beauty that arises out of imperfection.


Author: Shirin McArthur

I'm a spiritual guide, retreat leader, writer and editor.

2 thoughts on “Holy Imperfections

  1. Sorry to hear of the disappointment…I have been working not only on accepting the imperfections in life, but my own. It is work, and long overdue, and…best of all…gift.

    Liked by 1 person

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