We slowly stepped around it in the field at the tree farm. You know how you’re looking for which side will go against the wall? This tree had no bad sides. Brenda wanted slim but full, and the whole thing looked perfectly full top to bottom. The branches draped in a circle on the ground without a bare spot anywhere.
Brenda loved it. “It’s so beautiful!”
We got it home and in water and turned it this way and that to see which angle was best. It still didn’t matter–all sides were equally full.
We wrapped it in lights and hung the silver and gold balls. Then put on the harp and cross ornaments.
Brenda goes, “Hmmm.”
We hung the little plastic icicles. Stood back and looked. Moved some things around. Stood back and looked some more.
“Something’s missing,” Brenda said.
I said, “Maybe it needs some contrast, something red or green thrown in.”
“Nooooo,” She said, “I like silver and gold like we always have. Do we usually have more lights?”
“No. Exact same lights.”
We both began realizing what was wrong.
The tree is too perfect.
Too full, too symmetrical, too straight.
It’s boring. It needs some nooks and crannies, some branches sticking out here and there, some bare spots, a live squirrel popping it’s head out, something. It doesn’t look real.
Living things have strengths and weaknesses, holes and surprises. You think you want everything fixed, running smooth and predictable, but when you get it you’re disappointed.
You’re not wired for a perfect life.
As I go through my imperfect life today and this week, with imperfect people and surprises, with my own bares spots and my own awkward branches sticking out, I hope I can remember this perfect tree that has something very wrong with it. I hope you remember it too.
And when a squirrel pops his head out . . .
I think I find most help in trying to look on all the interruptions and hindrances to work that one has planned out for oneself as discipline, trials sent by God to help one against getting selfish over one’s work.
Then one can feel that perhaps one’s true work–one’s work for God–consists in doing some trifling haphazard thing that has been thrown into one’s day. It is not a waste of time, as one is tempted to think, it is the most important part of the work of the day–the part one can best offer to God.
After such a hindrance, do not rush after the planned work; trust that the time to finish it will be given sometime, and keep a quiet heart about it.
Can you think of a recent imperfect day or occasion that was beautiful because of the imperfections?