It is summer.
Like the season itself, there is no ambiguity in this statement. It is a fact as plain and self-evident as the sun that now rises straight up to the top of the sky or the green tomatoes waiting on their vines.
In one of those rare congruences, the academic calendar and the moon calendar and every kind of calendar we might consult in this house agree that it is now summer. And most convincing of all, the fireflies are back. In the evening, I can see small, dancing pinpricks of light everywhere I turn. They flash and flash, and I imagine a crowd of fairies practicing their nighttime photography.
All month long, I have been tempted to use one particular word. I am tempted by the low humidity and the cool breeze. I am tempted by the first blooms on the rose bushes I planted in March. I am tempted by the orderly lushness of the green garden. Broccoli and carrot tops and kale exploding along their neat rows.
I want to say, but then I do not say: It is perfect.
I talk myself down from that word every time. Because tomorrow it will be hot or because the beetles will begin chewing on the rose leaves any day now or that lettuce will surely bolt (and turn bitter) in a week.
But I have confused perfection and permanence. Whoever told me that perfect is only perfect if it lasts?
My son and I share a June birthday. He is, has always been, a good and perfect gift. I can remember him at six months old and how I wanted him to just stay. Like that. Forever. I had already seen my daughter, my firstborn, turn from fussy baby to fierce toddler to fiery preschooler, and I had celebrated and mourned each beautiful transition. But I wasn’t sure I had the energy to do it all again. I thought my chill little baby boy was just perfect. Today, he is eight, and that, too, seems just about perfect.
But perfect isn’t permanent.
We celebrated our birthday with a canoe ride down the Brandywine River. The Brandywine River is as sweet and magical as it sounds. We paddled, we drifted, we observed the round stones of the riverbed through a few shallow feet of clear water, and I watched the back of my little boy’s head. From where I sat at the rear of the boat, I could hear him whispering over and over, “This is amazing. This is just great.”
This is perfect, I wanted to say. But I didn’t.
I used to think that earth was the place of imperfection and heaven the place of perfection. I used to think that this life was imperfect and death was the door toward perfect. I used to think that this world was change and impermanence and that other world? That’s where everything stays the same, forever.
But I no longer think it is quite so neat. I no longer believe the lines are so thickly drawn. And this is good news.
Today, I think that the kingdom of heaven Jesus spoke of so powerfully is more like a river. And that river is breaking out in deserts all over this place. And in so many corners of my shifting, changing life.
And I am determined. When perfect bubbles up, I will no longer avert my eyes. I will no longer bury it in a flurry of doubt and pessimism (it won’t last, it isn’t real, nothing is ever perfect).
Instead, I will dive in. I will say, this river is leading me home.