Several years ago, I encountered a Japanese design concept known as Wabi Sabi.
In the words of architect Leonard Koren, Wabi Sabi is a way of finding the beauty in things that are “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.” In other words, it says that imperfect things can still be beautiful; in fact, it says that imperfect things are especially beautiful.
I have thought of this concept quite often lately as I consider Sunday morning Zoom worship and our somewhat haphazard ways of staying connected during the pandemic. They are far from perfect. They are incomplete. We pray that they are temporary. And yet, they are so very beautiful.
Sometimes as Christians, we may neglect to be grateful for imperfection. Perhaps we have some random biblical verses playing in our heads about being perfect as God is perfect. There aren’t (thankfully) very many of these texts. There are, however, quite a few references in the Bible to the ways the Spirit can shine through our brokenness and our frailty.
Anyone who has gathered at the graveside to honor the memory of a loved one, knows that the fact that earthly life is fleeting takes nothing away from its impact. Anyone who has witnessed a child’s first steps, followed by his or her inevitable stumble, knows that incomplete and imperfect can make us catch our breath in wonder.
These are good examples of Wabi Sabi, I think. It is at the very essence of being human to be imperfect, to be in a state of impermanence, to be far from a finished product. We have this treasure in clay jars. We are earthen creatures and we are inspired with God’s breath of life.
As I write this article, it is unclear where we may be in our COVID-19 journey. Cases are rising in our state and throughout the country. We are being asked to do the same small but essential things to hold the virus at bay: stay distant, wash hands, wear a mask. And we are asked to keep trying to find new ways to stay connected, to care for neighbor.
For the time being, we will continue to gather for worship on Sunday mornings via Zoom and post the worship videos on Monday. We will see one another and laugh and pray and celebrate the presence of the Spirit shining through our human and technological imperfections.
If you have been staying away from this worship opportunity because “it just isn’t the same,” please know that we know this to be true. But we also know that it is an amazing gift to turn on the computer or dial the phone and hear or see the Zion community gathered in all its holy imperfection. Thanks be to God for that Wabi Sabi beauty.
~ Pastor Shari