Dear Lord,

Let’s go back to last month when I wrote about my stereo system.

I talked with you about my musical time travel through my college days. I shared with you (as if you didn’t already know) the story of my stereo-typical (if I can use a pun) evolution of musical equipment in college. As you remember I told you that when I got to college I realized, with horror, that I had everything except something to play my very few records on. The transition was from a small one-piece stereo to a full compliment of audio equipment. The designations speak for themselves: a small “one-piece stereo” to “audio equipment”.

You can remember the type of stereo I started with: a Panasonic record player/radio with speakers that detached from the unit. It had the smoked plexiglass cover familiar to the day. I thought I was big stuff. But then I became an “audiophile”, always seeking more and more clarity in music. Now, as I mentioned last month, I have two complete stereo systems with designated functions: an amp, tuner, double-cassette deck, a CD player, a turntable (the record player part), two towering Polk Audio speakers, and two Aztec speakers (which are about the size of a suitcase and as heavy as a mini-van).

You have to understand that I wasn’t talking about the equipment itself, it was my pursuit to listen to music with the greatest clarity that I was referring to. One of my audio-geek friends actually developed a small recording studio in his home complete with 6′ speakers that were as thin as a medium sized book. It was amazing. When listening to those professional speakers it was if you could reach in and actually touch the music itself.

But after I wrote to you last month a friend of mine said he had recently gone back to listening to vinyl records and away from music on his I-Pod, Alexa, and other electronic devices. (You’ll notice that we don’t even call these things stereo equipment anymore.) Instead, he said he sits back and listens to his favorite music on imperfect records where there may always be the slightest bit of background noise and imperfection.

When I asked him about it he said it’s because some of life’s greatest moments come not in the perfection of something, but in understanding and appreciating the imperfections which surround us.

I just had lunch with meteorologist Kristen Cwyner from WTVO television in Rockford. I was fortunate enough to officiate at the marriage of Kristen and her husband John. Interestingly, I’d never met nor known a meteorologist in my life…now I know two. Kristen came up to have lunch with me and we met at the Fat Cat Cafe just on the north edge of town on Blackhawk Blvd. (Just in case you need a place to meet for lunch, Lord, check it out…and ask for the cupcake menu!)

While we were enjoying lunch at the Fat Cat we talked about her life with her Navy husband who is currently deployed for 6 months. She was commenting with a familiar phrase, “In a perfect world…” that some things might be easier about being a military family. I told her that “In a perfect world” I would look and sing like Alan Jackson. Instead I look and sing more like Willie Nelson.

But as we talked about it we decided that the everyday beauty and significance in life is in the imperfections. It’s taking the time on a rainy day to have a cup of coffee with a friend. It’s about using the imperfect gifts we have to make a difference in the lives of others. It’s learning that it is our weaknesses and imperfections which push us to have to have to learn to rely on one another. It’s the fact that compassion only comes when we see the imperfections in others as a part of our own imperfection. And it’s allowing our weaknesses to help us not to become arrogant and gain compassion for others. Imperfections should be celebrated, not cursed!

Listening to life through sterile six-foot stereo speakers is great, but real life finds its beauty in understanding, appreciating, and even celebrating the imperfections in ourselves and others.

With that in mind, please help me to appreciate my own imperfections and not judge others for theirs. Help me to become loving, as Jesus taught me.

As always, I love you. Thanks for listening. I think I’ll dig out my old stereo.


Pastoral Ponderings May 2018