Being Human

An experiment in poetry

Thanks to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing at Pittsburgh Seminary

By Katy Stenta 

The story gets more fantastic

The more we tell it

It gets bigger

Even when we make it more concise

The better adjective, the simple adverb

The timing

All of which can be 

drilled down

to this thing called perfect


But the human being

Exists outside of perfection

There is no perfect time to be human

There is no perfect relationship 

No perfect creation

made by human hands

Humankind works so hard to tell its story

Because maybe if we describe our faith

more perfectly, more people will follow it

Why do we chase perfection? 

Why do we want the feeling of 

having the exact words

to shape how our experiences exist—

Do we not then pretend that our experiences are 

unembodied? 

Do we not want to be lost in a fantastic story

precisely because we have struggled too?

Do we not experience our lives as Science Fiction?

Too technical to explain, too human to let go 

of our essence.

I think I prefer Science Fiction to Perfection. 

Enough for Grace

Holy Spirit, as I live and breathe I consider my requirements and hold them up against your grace.

How is it I am enough for you? On the one hand I am never enough. I have this drive to achieve and perfect. But though this drive is a part of being human, I know this is by no means your requirement.

For who is perfect but you, God?

Sometimes, when I imagine heaven, I know I get it all wrong. Picturing it like a Hall of Fame of acheivements or a place of perfection.

When, instead, you promise it to be the feast where everyone gets fed, and no one is too late to join.

Instead, you promise it to be a place where participation is valued, not perfection.

What a balm, to remember that you want each of us to participate.

There is no such thing as perfect communion. If you required perfection for communion, it would unravel–becoming a practice of the singular being a Christ.

Instead, you invite us to come, in all of our messy, fumbling, clumsy ways of love. Instead you encourage any and all to participate in whatever way we can. Jesus stands at the table with open arms, tearing the bread apart with his own hands, his eyes twinkling.

And then, God you make communion: miraculously happen, by being present!

You are there when the lips of the ill or frail touch the elements. You are there when the cup of grace is overfilled and drips and spills over. You cross the great expanses of screens and bring us into communion with one another and you even over the internet. The miracle of your promised presence each and every time we practice communion is perfection itself.

Communion is perfect.

And we are it’s participants, not its perfecters.

Lord, help us to remember you value true and honest participation over any attempt at perfection. You are perfect so we don’t have to be. You created communion so we can be a part of perfection, a part of you, together.

Only you, O God, would see perfection as something to partake in, rather than something to strive for.

In this way communion is truly a foretaste of the kingdom meal. And for that I give you thanks and praise.

Amen.

This Prayer can be used/adapted with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta 

More Mundane Prayers: for surviving the Day to Day

Here is the Link for Pandemic Prayers and Resources: Top Posts are “In an Abundance of Caution” “The Lord is My Shepherd: What kind of Sheep are You” and “Masks: A Prayer”

When to go to church (or) the Christian Struggle with Perfection

“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Image

“I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla. “I never saw your beat for making mistakes, Anne.”

“Yes, and well I know it,” admitted Anne mournfully. “But have you ever noticed one encouraging thing about me, Marilla? I never make the same mistake twice.”

“I don’t know as that’s much benefit when you’re always making new ones.”

“Oh, don’t you see, Marilla? There must be a limit to the mistakes one person can make, and when I get to the end of them, then I’ll be through with them. That’s a very comforting thought.”

 

I can still remember having a very “adult” conversation with my parents. It was one in which I must have been about 10, and my parents were telling me that I wasn’t perfect, and that I was going to have to live with myself. My response to this (because I knew no one could be perfect) was “I don’t want to be perfect, I just don’t want to make any mistakes!”

As Christians we have this ongoing struggle with perfection. On the one hand we want to be perfect, on the other part of being Christian (at least for me ) is admitting that we aren’t perfect. It is contending with our brokenness, and giving it up to God to be healed.

However, even though we know this about ourselves, I think that Christians often feel the mistaken need to pro-ject perfection. We want to look or at least seem perfect to everyone else. It’s as if our perfection reflects upon the perfection of God. If we aren’t perfect, then God isn’t perfect. If we don’t have all the answers, then God doesn’t have all the answers.

Instead of pointing towards God’s for answers, we rely upon ourselves or the “church” (i.e. that human conglomeration that we too often see as being the church) to be perfect/have the answers.

 

That’s where pastors mess up too right? Pastors feel that they have to be perfect, and instead of being open about their faith and their brokenness and talking about where they meet, Pastors try to be perfect, hide their mistakes/failings (which often leads to a whole nasty secret double life). Too often pastors skip their own confessions–of both faith and doubt, and then the quagmire’s come

So we are back to the perfection and mistakes. It is important to strive towards perfection, but to also rely on God on the source of all perfection. And even when I think that I know my way to God, it is important not to project that as the only way to God.

Too often, I think that Church is shown as a place for “perfect” people or (worse) people who think they are perfect. Too often Church is seen as the place where all of our answers are provided. After all, church is not the place to give standardized tests–God answers each of us personally and individually….Image

When, in actuality. God is a mystery, the church doesn’t know how everything works (Trinity, anyone? Or how about that Virgin Birth thing?) The church should be the A number 1 place to go when you AREN’T Perfect, it should be THE place to go when you have questions, and it should be the surrenduring of your mistakes and imperfections to God so that God is the one we are relying on to “project the right image” not humanity or the church in itself…..

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