Sunday, August 30, 2009

Praise for the Imperfect People

Living in Boston places one at the epicenter of public mourning for the late Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy. I'm neither old enough, nor have I lived in Massachusetts long enough to appreciate the full emotional impact of his passing. In spite of this, I've found myself moved by the watching the mourning process unfold in the media. What I have found most interesting from a spiritual point of view, is the contrast between the personal struggles the Senator faced in his life and the profound impact of his legislative achievements on the lives of his fellow Americans. I think that his son Edward put it well, "He was not perfect, but my father believed in redemption. And he never surrendered."

I admire people like Senator Kennedy because their lives remind me that glory is not the sole possession of the flawless but potentially belongs to all of us. They remind me that I am more than my mistakes. They remind me that as that gospel song goes, "A saint is just a sinner who fell down and got up." They remind me that heroism often emerges because of a person's imperfections rather than in spite of them.

In the Baha'i community, some of the people I most admire are those I know have struggled the most with living up to the high standard Baha'u'llah has set for His followers. What makes me love them is not that they are always successful, but that they keep trying anyway. They encourage me to believe that there might be hope for me too, that I don't have to be perfect to serve the Lord.

So let's hear it for the imperfect people. Their lives have a message for us if we are willing to listen.

"Our past is not the thing that matters so much in this world as what we intend to do with our future." (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 208)