Pastor’s Corner: The Good

June 30, 2021

Several years ago, I spent a week building a wooden boat. It was a one week program that included community building, spiritual reflection, skills building, and… building a wooden boat.

Toward the end of the week the instructor assigned me to fashion one of the quarter knees – a piece of wood to reinforce the junction of the boat’s stern and side. In order to work, the quarter knee had to fit smoothly into different angles: the stern itself, the curve of the side toward the bow, and the curve of the side toward the keel. I set to the work with my heart in my mouth. I made one glaring but fortunately recoverable error. At the last I worked with shallow scrapers and sandpaper to make the final adjustments.

It fit. It wasn’t perfect, but it fit.

Voltaire recorded, “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” as an Italian proverb in his Dictionnaire philosophique in 1770 – from both its Italian and original it might be translated, “The best is the enemy of the good.”

In Christian faith, there is a yearning for perfect knowledge, or perfect ethics, or perfect love. Curiously, Christians often define the “perfect” as “what has already been,” striving to return to some early church of peace and love that, frankly, cannot be found in the rather testy letters of the New Testament, letters that testify clearly to imperfection, disagreement, and even conflict. Perfection will not be found in the past any more than in the present.

Frankly, I struggle to attain “the good.” Doing well for others, doing well for myself, doing well for God, takes care and attention and work. It takes time and focus and commitment.

As we seek to find our place as Christians in these changing times, I remember that quarter knee. It fit, and it helped hold the boat together. With care and patience and love, so will we.

With aloha,

Pastor Eric

Photo by Eric Anderson

Categories Pastor's Corner Reflections | Tags: , | Posted on July 7, 2021

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