Deliberate Mistakes


I once worked with a stone mason who was repairing a great fireplace, with the chimney stoned all the way from the mantle to the cathedral ceiling peak. He stood back and surveyed the stone work. “What makes this artwork, what makes it beautiful is not a bunch of same-size stones all perfectly lined up in rows. The beauty is in the way the mason works his way out of a ‘problem.’ He gets himself trapped in a corner, and there seems no way out. His symmetry is broken.  But he works around it, finds a new pattern to break him free. Those are the most beautiful stretches of stonework.”

That perfection-in-imperfection reminds me of the Navajo rug. I’m told there is always an imperfection deliberately woven into the corner of the rug. It looks perfect—then there’s this “mistake.” Except it’s intentionally put there.

Why? The Navajo say it’s “where the Spirit moves in and out of the rug.” That’s hard for us to understand. God’s Spirit moves in and out of imperfection? a “mistake”? We’ve spent our whole life trying to get rid of all imperfection. If we’re not there yet, surely God is!

Tough times always make a “mess” of our lives. The beautiful pattern you were just about to finish is “ruined.” When you’re conditioned to manage everything, that’s how it seems. The career pattern is not going to be perfect. The lifestyle design is flawed. The house will never be renovated to match the perfect image in your mind. That’s when it’s time to remember the Navajo rug.

God cannot weave in and out of our lives when we have them all buttoned up tight, sleek, polished to cold perfection. There’s no room for God—no need!

We may not have the spiritual courage to weave those mistakes deliberately, but at least we can accept them as a gift when the fabric of our lives is inevitably torn.

7 Responses to Deliberate Mistakes
  1. clark s johnson
    June 19, 2012 | 10:56 am

    Daid Always look forward to your pieces They are also uniqueas I quess we all are That is another miracle
    Blessings clark

  2. Cathy H.
    June 19, 2012 | 10:56 am

    Another good one! I like your sentence: “God’s Spirit moves in and out of imperfection…” When I stop shooting for perfection, and allow God’s Spirit that space, I think I am experiencing real faith in God – and not just faith in my own efforts. BTW, I must have a little Navajo in me because I purposely knit a mistake (in baby blankets) to remind the parents-to-be that they WILL make mistakes, but viewed as a whole, that little life – that they nurture and love with God’s help – will be beautiful.

    • David Anderson
      June 20, 2012 | 6:39 am

      Thanks. I love that imperfection in the baby blanket because the need we parents have to create impeccable offspring is frightfully strong.

  3. Darunee Wilson
    June 19, 2012 | 2:20 pm

    I had always heard that persian rug weavers always wove an error into the rug to show that no person was perfect, only Allah. I guess wise people everywhere think alike!

    • David Anderson
      June 20, 2012 | 4:47 pm

      Wise people think alike indeed.

    • Ellis J. Serdikoff
      January 5, 2019 | 1:18 pm

      “I had always heard that persian [sic] rug weavers always wove an error into the rug to show that no person was perfect, only Allah. I guess wise people everywhere think alike!”

      If no person is perfect, or capable of producing perfection, why the need to introduce an error artificially?
      Perhaps you’re right, ‘wise’ people do think alike: Often wrong, never in doubt.

  4. shirley p.
    December 24, 2017 | 10:20 am

    Thank you. I like being imperfect; it took me decades to get to this realization.

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