First apartment Marian and I rented was near a nature reserve, and a colony of turkey vultures roosted in the tops of the eucalyptus all around us. Most people complained about the mess on the sidewalks, but I loved them. Waiting every morning for the sun to heat the updrafts that would take them aloft, like business people waiting for the train, they went to the office every day, all day, back home with the lowering sun. Day after day, seasons, weekends, holidays made no difference. No sense of time or the arbitrary lines we draw to mark our calendars.
On New Year’s Day, we celebrate an arbitrary line. A line drawn differently in different cultures at different times in history. In the West, we think of time as a series of line segments, but the new year we celebrate is really a circle. The universe is made of circles. Circles within circles. Stars, planets, orbits, rotations, all scribing the circles we call days, months, years, seasons. The earth has no more sense of time than a turkey vulture, but we do, and in the language of Jesus, when a circle is completed as on New Year’s Day, it is g’mar, perfected.
2022 is now a perfect year. Complete. Fulfilled.
Hard to imagine any of us calling 2022 a perfect year because we think of perfection as without fault or blemish. No year is without blemish, but they all come full circle. None of us are without fault, but we can come full circle too. 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,” they are urging the perfection of homecoming after a difficult journey.
Perfection is not about working a process to a perfect result, but about the effect that process has on us…even if the result is imperfect. Outcome is irrelevant to the perfection of Jesus and James. We are perfected when we come full circle, home to our eucalyptus, having learned to be more fully present and aware, to more perfectly embrace whatever and whomever shares our homecoming.
No matter how imperfect.