So one member of the Children's Choir was a little off-key this morning. I don't write this to critique or nitpick. It didn't detract from the beauty of the performance, nor the joy it brought the congregation and the singers. It's just the way it is. Someone was a little off-key.
I spent a few years in the choir. I was (as Tom could certainly attest) far from perfect. Obviously, I never wanted to flub a note or miss an entrance, but it happened, and pretty much every time it did, I was annoyed with myself. Frustrated. Disappointed.
I assume we all do this, to one extent or another. We seek perfection in many things we do, and when we fail to reach this unreasonable standard, we get upset; we beat ourselves up about it. The paradox of it all is that it is human to be disappointed with imperfection, but imperfection is a part of the very nature of being human. We are all flawed. We all make mistakes. We all disappoint.
You're going to walk through this coming week, and you're going to make mistakes. Some may be small, others large, but, regardless, you're going to do it. I'm going to do it, too. This fallen, broken world sees constant human failures, no matter how much we try.
But it is from our humanity that so much beauty comes. We're broken, struggling creatures trying to find our way back to God. Our world is a testament to the persistence, joy and wonder that come out of people making so many mistakes. We're a living tapestry, and every dropped stitch, every frayed corner, every mismatched colour contributes the art of our lives.
No one wants a fake plastic auto-tuned life. Our beauty comes from our passions, and our passions can steer us awry. Even the greatest musicians can miss a note, and even that missed note can infuse a song with even more life. In one of his greatest hits, Curtis Mayfield's trumpet player misses one note in a song's main riff. They didn't stop the recording. They didn't use another take. The squeal is left in, and it makes it oh so much more human (it occurs at the 3:07 mark):
So if you're struggling, if you're making mistakes, if you're thinking you just can't sufficiently contribute to the life of your church, your community or your world, take heart. None of us can. None of us can give it 100%, 100% of the time, with 100% perfection.
We each have a part to play. We each have an instrument to grab. Join in, make mistakes and revel in the love of God and Her world. The song is much richer when we all sing along.
We might sing a little off-key, but we'll be in tune.