Passion or Perfection
“Poets are caretakers of language, the shepherds of words, keeping them from harm, exploitation, misuse…. Poets are not primarily trying to tell us, or get us, to do something…they draw us into deeper respect both for words and the reality they set before us” (Eugene H. Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor, 161). The intent of these recent posts is to provoke reticent pastors to try their hand at poetry, using words “with playful discipline.” Choose a topic, concept, or issue that you believe needs to be contemplated and expressed. With blank paper and pencil, dabble with words, play with phrases, endeavor to crisply capture a compelling expression. Shepherd the words toward the meaning you want to convey. Here is my attempt to contrast two visions of God.
Passion or Perfection?
Choose each moment
passion or perfection.
God is a jealous God.
We want a perfect God more.
Perfection means clean and tidy.
Passion is wild, ruthless, messy.
Passion reverberates with danger.
Perfection is safe. We like safe.
Perfection has sharp corners,
Right angles, clean lines.
Passion gets sweaty and dirty
Evoking decisions in the dust.
Perfection likes the clear air, and
Clean white pages with the rules.
The God of passion wrestles us to
the dirt and cripples us.
The God of perfection allows us to
debate what to do on Sunday
that is “legal.”
The God of Passion was made flesh.
The God of Perfection lives in a book.
Passion thunders, moving and shaking.
Perfection, mute and paralyzed, simply sits.
The choice meets us every moment:
Passion or perfection?
The jealous God of the Bible or
The tidy God of clean systems of thought?
Choose this day the God you will serve.
On this one, I don’t think “both/and” is an option. Unless God at times scares the living daylights out of us, we haven’t wandered into “the jealous God” territory. God prefers the messy, wretched gutters of Calcutta to the precise, privileged rooms of Downton Abby.