Sunday, November 01, 2009
Sunday Afternoon Tea
Those who know me well, know this is my favorite quote. Not so much because I'm a perfectionist. While I do have certain leanings towards desiring excellence, having lived with two real perfectionists... I know those traits are not so strong in my own personality.
I must admit to teasing Stephanie about her perfectionism (what a terrible mother). Especially as it concerned her violin "career". In all honesty, her "less than great" violin skills were mostly from having moved to a part of the country where there was no violin teacher available to continue her lessons (yes, such places exist). But the fun in teasing her came purely from her frustrations as a perfectionist who was used to excelling rather than just being "good enough" :)
No, my frustrations are not so much in the doing perfectly as in the being... or rather, if life runs contrary to what I think it coulda', shoulda', or woulda' been... why go down that path at all? Which brings me in a full circle again to last week's Sunday Afternoon Tea... do we get annoyed with God when things don't go our way so much that we just stop?
Do we stop studying, or reading, or writing, or praying, or fixing up the house, or having people over to show hospitality, or being a friend, or... anything less than the full and complete scenario we desire?
I think of this often as each Holiday season arrives. Christmas was a huge holiday in our home. I loved the sights and the sounds and the scents and everything having to do with the Season. As much as I enjoyed Thanksgiving, I'd find myself putting away the autumnal decorations the day after, starting the Seasonal music, and bringing out the boxes labeled "Christmas"... all of them.
I loved Christmas Eve services, Christmas parties, and concerts, and having friends over, and the family being all together. I would Christmas "shop" all year round (especially for the small stocking stuffers). There were the traditions to be followed and new ones established.
The changes in our life did not come all at once. Most were gradual until that Christmas season came when I realized life was entirely different than it once was. Not that it was ever perfect, far from it... but it was good. For awhile, even the good became hard to find.
What I came to learn after those years was the acceptance of life as it is as opposed to what I'd like it to be and that life can be good even if it is... limited. Once again I decorated the house, even if it was just for the three of us. The Christmas menus were as festive as possible, a limited amount of baking was accomplished, and Christmas cards were sent to the elderly aunts (long gone were the informative letters of family life that year).
The lessons learned through the years at Christmas have been carried through to other seasons. The front porch is decorated and a seasonal centerpiece sits on the dining table... even if only seen by the three of us (and two of them men). Silver is polished and china carefully washed to add elegance to the rooms. I have learned to light a scented candle and brew a small pot of tea, served in a real china cup... even if just for myself as I read in the evening.
If I wait for the perfect, as Edith indicates in her quote... I will never have anything. However, if I do what I can with what I have... now... in this time and in this place... trusting God in all things... the good will return even if the best is always out of reach. As I tell my perfectionist family, good can be, well... good. :)
How did I come to accept good? By getting to know the One who is the Greatest of All. As I look into the Word, I know this world is not all there is and that true perfection will never be found in our daily life. If we stomp our feet and refuse to play until we get things our way... we miss out on all that is available outside of perfection.