The universe is a clock. A clock made of circles. Circles within circles. Stars, planets, orbits, rotations, all scribing out time in days, months, years, longer years. Ironic that we think of time as line segments when the universe thinks in circles. And in the language of Jesus, each time a circle is completed as on New Year’s Day, it is perfected. 2021 is now a perfect year. Complete. Fulfilled.
Along with thinking in little line segments, we also think of perfection as without fault or blemish. None of us would say that 2021 was without blemish, and neither would the Aramaic word g’mar, which would simply affirm that it came full circle. James says it best at the top of his letter: “Let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” When Jesus says, “Be ye perfect” and his brother James says,” be perfect and complete,” are they implying we can be without fault or blemish? Obviously not part of human condition or experience.
Jesus and James are urging us to beat our swords into plowshares, lines into curves, as we think along a different arc of perfection. Any year, no matter how grim, is perfected when it completes a circuit around the sun, and any life, equally grim, is perfected when death engulfs birth like a snake eating its tail. But the perfect result of James’ endurance takes us much further.
A hero is not one who completes the journey, but the one whom the journey completes…
The perfection of coming full circle is not just about geometry or geography. A great poet said it’s about arriving back where we started and knowing the place for the first time—knowing ourselves for the first time. It’s about the willingness to answer the call of a new experience or a new year and set out with no single destination or assurance of outcome. To show up day after day without an audience to scribe another arc along the circumference, holding to beliefs only we can see, knowing we’ve arrived only when we get there. That changes us. Grows us. Completes us as the circle is completed in a perfectly imperfect result.