This past week I set aside my academic work, picked up a flat bar and needle nose pliers, and set to work ripping up old carpet. Our house was built in the 1930’s so we figured there was some wood beneath the ugly green and brown wool carpet. The people who have owned the house since the 1960’s loved carpet. They plastered it everywhere – dining room, kitchen, even the bathroom. The bathroom stuff went a while ago – potty training a two year old boy sped up that project. I started Sunday afternoon by pulling up a corner to see what was underneath and I just kept going. Within 15 minutes the carpet was pulled off to reveal a rather nice wood floor. By Thursday I had finished two upstairs rooms – glad to throw the remnants off the back roof and stuff it in the garage until I can haul it away. While the wood floors are decent they are by no means perfect. If you look close enough to the picture you can see the staple marks that held down the padding. As I pulled the carpet back in my son’s room I discovered a nice patch job – a piece of plywood grafted into the pine – probably filling in the hole left by those old-school vents that used to heat the upstairs. So we went to the store and bought a small area rug to cover it up. The floors aren’t perfect but that’s ok. In fact, that’s what we love about our house. It’s not perfect – that’s what makes it home. The imperfection let’s us live without worrying about how our house looks. Our grass has dandelions all over, our lawn is beat down because our kids love to play outside, toys are usually strewn all over the upstairs – and that’s just how we like it. Take a trip around town and there are plenty of new housing developments popping up with McMansions galore Call us house snobs but my wife and I usually feel sorry for the people who have to live in them. It must be taxing to have to keep a lawn “perfect” or keep a new house looking stylish and immaculate. Houses are for living in… yards are supposed to be played in. They’re supposed to be “imperfect” because that’s how life happens.
Last night I attended my second graduation ceremony in as many nights. The verse was from I Corinthians 13:10 “but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” I couldn’t help but wonder if Paul would put it differently today. Maybe he would say the opposite? “when the imperfect comes, perfection disappears.” Graduations are always displays of perfection. Everyone dressed up so nice, teachers saying all these wonderfully nice things about the graduates. The graduates saying how wonderful the school and the teachers have been all those years. And of course every graduate is a model young person – everyone, as Garrison Keillor puts it, is “above average.” Just once I’d love to hear a teacher or administrator say “We love you dearly, but we are happy to see you move on.” Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a graduation hater. Of course we’re going to play it up for the ceremony – we should. If only someone would wink. Let’s teach students to embrace their imperfections – it’s what makes us human, it’s what makes us interesting, and it’s what make love and grace possible. It would also make graduation ceremonies much easier to bear.