So, realising that the New Year we’ve entered is 2020, the Benbinfro office has been talking about the meaning of 20/20. Most of us thought it meant having perfect vision and that the phrase is often used to mark a level of perfection. Aha, we thought, so does that mean that this coming year will be perfect? A year in which all will go well and we will all feel satisfied that our wishes are being met.
And then some bright spark in the office Googled the phrase 20/20 and announced that it actually means a normal level of eyesight. That took some of the bounce out of everyone’s step. So we won’t be having a perfect year after all, we thought. It’s going to be a normal year, full of the usual ups and downs and we’ll have to make the best of it.
But of course, what is one person’s idea of perfection might be someone else’s idea of disaster. Your perfect day might be dry weather so you can do hours of gardening, while mine is more likely to be no gardening and a game of tennis. You might think having a big family get together is the perfect way to spend an afternoon, while others, like me, might prefer walking the dog in the rain and having time to organise thoughts and reflect on whatever has been worrying us.
We all have different ideas of perfection. But can we agree on what makes the perfect person? Aah yes, we all said, listing qualities such kindness, compassion and generosity, then hastily adding listening to each other as well. And is it always possible to be that person, we said, thinking of the times when there are queues in the bank, the supermarket and the post office and we arrive home laden with bags to find that the cat has caught a bird and distributed feathers all over the kitchen? Even the most good-tempered person has a breaking point and as it is said in Ecclesiastes 7:20 – ‘Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins’.
Most of us try to behave well most of the time, but everyday life tests us and sometimes we fall. We don’t mean to, but we are tripped up by life’s challenges. That is why the confession in our regular services contains these words: ‘Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned against you and against our fellow men, in thought and word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault’. God knows that on the whole we try to behave well and pray we can do better in future.
So maybe the year ahead of us won’t be perfect. Maybe it will challenge us in ways we aren’t expecting. But perhaps, if we all try just that little bit harder to be perfect, if we strive to be considerate and kind, if we listen to the concerns of others, we will get a little nearer to making 2020 a good year, if not a perfect one.