My friends, Karla and MG went home on Wednesday. Thank you for the hospitality you shared with them last week. They were very impressed with this wonderful meeting and the kind and generous people in it. Some of you were able to spend some time just talking with them while they were here. If you asked them when they were going home, they would have told you that they were leaving early on Tuesday morning – very early, and that to get them to the airport in Medford we were to have them there at 4:30 AM – on Tuesday – and leave Klamath Falls by 3:00. But early Tuesday morning I made a mistake, actually the night before. I forgot to check my fuel amount. We got up as far as running Y when I saw we had less than thirty miles before we ran out. Nothing would be open at that time of the morning between Klamath Falls and Medford. So I had to turn around to get to the Gulf station at the corner or Biehn and Oregon Avenue. When we pulled up to the airport at 5:15 the first thing we heard was their names being called over the loud speaker, “Last Call.” And of course the person who is supposed to check the bags was on a bathroom break, so they had to change their flight to Wednesday morning, same flight and same number. So I made sure that I had filled the tank and had all of the various things done to make sure they got there in Medford airport at 4:30 AM on Wednesday, and they were closer to 4:45 but they were there and were able to check their bags and board their plane. They got home. Safely.
But that time between the flight they were supposed to go on and the one that they did actually get to get on were fabulous hours. It started on the way home from the airport after they had missed the flight. There were cranes fishing in the water in upper Klamath as the sun rose near Lakeshore. We were stopped for the construction and instead of stressing, we were able to take pictures of these beautiful birds as the gorgeous sun rose over the mountains and through the pink and yellow clouds. We saw right away that perhaps having one more day together wasn’t such a bad thing. We were able to relax. We were able to have fun. We went to brunch at the Joyful Café and ordered pizza in that night that we ate while watching the sun go down over the lake from our porch, everyone with their feet up or sitting back relaxed on the porch. We giggled like school girls and told each other things and ways we had matured and healed in our lives, and the parts that different good people had played in helping us to get to where we are spiritually. It was the best day we had had during their time here.
Sometimes mistakes are the breaks that allow spirit in. Spirit was definitely felt more on Tuesday evening than between three and 5:30 AM early Tuesday morning.
The Dine (Navajo) have been weavers of blankets for centuries. The legend is that they were taught to weave by Spider Woman, a messenger of Creator. Dr. Mark Sublette, an expert on Navajo teachings and beliefs, says that he is asked often about a spirit line that is supposed to be woven into the blankets. “Often, they’re small and very discrete pieces, and if they’re very tight pieces, they can be extremely fine. When you do see this, it just helps to show that the Navajo have a spirit in this, and basically the thought pattern that we feel like: is that the weaver who was taught how to weave from spider woman, had her soul and she didn’t want to have her soul trapped inside the weaving, so she needed a way to exit, and this is how she exited – through the spirit line or weaver’s path. You’ll also see sometimes obvious mistakes, and again, the Navajo people, and in general, most Native American people, don’t feel that being perfect is a good thing. So, they want to show that imperfection. I think the one thing you must remember is that in Navajo weavings they take a long time, not only to do, but (also) to learn. So, if it’s a great example, they’re not going to make a mistake unless they want to make a mistake. These are real artists that have great discipline. It takes six months to weave a textile. You’ll know if you’re making a mistake unless you’re doing it on purpose.”
There are Native cultures where a hole is left in the blanket to allow the Spirit to get in. It is seen as a mistake made on purpose to teach, and to remind that mistakes are to allow for growth of the soul., to let Spirit into whatever is bothering us, or to use whatever mistake we have made to help us be better people. The hole in the blanket can many times be visible to remind us that we are not perfect. And only through humility can Spirit come into our lives.
Cherokee weaving, basket making, pottery making and jewelry and decoration of clothing and regalia is all thought to be works of the Spirit because it is creative, which God is the source of creativity, and with each bead or each strip of willow bark, you are expected to say a prayer. Every bead is a prayer, it is said. But also it is part of the Cherokee tradition to bead a mistake into beaded jewelry or seam work. When one puts the spirit bead in, you are to remind yourself not to take yourself too seriously, that you are not Creator and that Creator will provide and care. It is thought that this action guards against hubris and excessive pride by affirming that only the Creator can make something that is perfect. These misplaced or discolored beads are often called “Spirit beads”.
In Japanese culture this reminder that we are not to aspire to be perfect, but to even celebrate our mistakes as times to make our souls stronger. This is called Wabi Sabi, learning to embrace the imperfect and entertain with thoughtfulness and ease. Stressing over perfection and refusing to give grace to ourselves only makes us anxious and stresses the people around us. We end up making more mistakes due to anxiety and not enjoying the life we are blessed with. Wabi-sabi is not a religion or a spiritual doctrine, although it does have roots in Zen Buddhism and Taoism. It is more of an aesthetic and cultural philosophy that emphasizes the value of simplicity, humility, and naturalness. Wabi-sabi has influenced many contemporary designers and architects, who seek to incorporate its principles of imperfection, transience, and naturalness into their work. This might include using natural materials, celebrating the beauty of aging and wear, and creating spaces that evoke a sense of calm and harmony. wabi-sabi is not about being lazy or apathetic, but about being mindful and present in the moment. It encourages us to appreciate the value of simplicity, imperfection, and transience, and to cultivate a deeper connection to ourselves, others, and the natural world. You can incorporate wabi-sabi into your daily routine by practicing mindfulness, simplifying your life, embracing imperfection, connecting with nature, and cherishing meaningful objects. This might involve taking a mindful walk in nature, decluttering your home or workspace, finding beauty in the imperfections of a handmade object, or taking time to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. W abi-sabi can be practiced by anyone, regardless of their profession or background. It is a mindset and a way of life that can be applied to any aspect of life, from cooking and gardening to relationships and personal growth. By practicing mindfulness, simplifying our lives, embracing imperfection, connecting with nature, and cherishing meaningful objects, we can cultivate a deeper sense of presence, authenticity, and appreciation for the beauty and value of imperfection..
A good example of Wabi-sabi is repairing cracked glass vases and bowls with gold. This is called Kintsugi and it is a way of taking the imperfect and celebrating the imperfection by making the bowl more valuable because it experienced a negative life event. You have a picture of a kintsugi bowl on the front of your bulletin.
God uses us, broken and all, and the gold in the lines of the bowl can represent the love of God or of the world that can mend your life together. You do not need to seek perfection. The less you do, the less you have, the more grace you give yourself and any moment that you are in, and all those around you, while practicing mindfulness and thoughtfulness is the opposite of seeking perfection and acquiring more possessions, two things we are taught in American culture are necessary for happiness. Loving others and your enemies are examples of letting go. Christianity is not about acquiring and demanding perfection. It is about mercy not just to others but to ourselves, extending grace to our imperfections, repairing with gold our relationships, investing in reconciliation and focusing on living and being alive rather than anxiety.