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I often think of a truth that I heard long ago from someone far back in memory and I bless the person who brought it to me like so many gifts from forgotten sources – the angels given to us for guidance in life…This gift, like a 100-watt light bulb, revealed that it is not at the beginning of life that we are expected to be perfect. Rather we are here to learn and wake up as we go so that by the end of life we might have come to understand what it was we were here to be and do. That was a big relief to me since I had early taken to heart the adage: “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” and imagined that there was a time frame (like “today!”) appended to it.

There’s a lot of “wiggle room” in that recognition: a lot less guilt for mistakes and even for the occasional tantrum! It’s our effort that God is looking for, I believe. And that’s why I appreciate some of St. Paul’s best advice, as in his letters to the burgeoning Christian communities. Today, for example, Paul calls us brothers and sisters and urges us down through the ages to “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us…” (EPH 4) Paul is sometimes very directive in his words to an audience but sometimes (as in the above quote) he is like a kind cheerleader, remembering his own lessons earlier in life, and motivating us to remember who and whose we are.