Imprecision, or What We Can Learn from the Solstice



So, I thought that I would look up the term “solstice” and find some quick and easy way of connecting it to this photo of the Solstice Paddle at Hallet’s Cove this year…. I mean, we do use the term twice every year and we do look forward to it both times – so surely we understand it precisely, right?

Ah, but never is life as precise as we expect it – and what could be more living than the planet we ride upon in our travels around the sun? So, naturally, what I found showed all the imprecision of my surface knowledge of the longest (and shortest) days of our lives!

It’s All Relative

Words like “about,” “around,” and “relative” abound in descriptions of the solstice – and phrases like “the wobble in the earth’s axis” ( point to even more shocking imprecision, not only in our understanding and prediction of the solstice, but even in the actual movement of our planet!

Did you know? There’s “wobble” in our planet’s axis. Our planet has changed speed over time. It’s orbit around the sun isn’t always exactly the same! It is not just we – flawed human beings that we are – who are imprecise. Imprecision is embedded in the foundation of creation. Could it be that imprecision was also a part of God’s “it was good” declaration?

Perhaps we can be forgiven then for erratically paddling our little boats in the evening sun, trusting each awkward thrust of our oar to eventually move us forward in our lives, our vocations, our relationships, or our sanctification. And perhaps, that underlying comfort with imprecision is what leaves us ultimately unshaken by the undulating water below us or the wobbling axis, and allows us to enjoy our extra seconds of sun before we move again toward the shortening days.

Beth Perry


Beth PerryBeth Perry was ordained in the United Methodist Church but now has Privilege of Call in the United Church of Christ. She graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1994. In addition to 20 years of pastoral and chaplaincy experience, she teaches multiple courses for the University of Phoenix in New Jersey. She has been active in Safe Sanctuary/Safe church training for a decade or more, and a consultant for more than 150 congregations working to reduce the risk of abuse in the church. She also leads workshops and retreats on Spiritual Gifts, meditation, and mysticism. Beth will be leading three courses with BeADisciple this summer: Writing or Editing Your Safe Sanctuary Policy, Creating a Digital Ministry Workshop, and Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts.

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