Hermann Hesse in the Imperfect Garden

Today is the birthday of German writer, Herman Hesse (1877-1962).  While many of my contemporaries were reading Siddhartha and Steppenwolf thanks to the writings of Timothy Leary and joining whatever was the counter-culture in the late 1960’s and 1970’s I was desperately trying to become a member of the Establishment, no dropping out or turning on or tuning in for me. Hesse and his works held no charm then. Life allows for the new…

It turns out that Hesse’s family was deeply involved with the Serbian Pietist church. His parents served at a mission in India. He attended seminary. While espousing a politics of detachment about Hitler’s regime, in 1933, he helped Bertold Brecht and Thomas Mann make their travel into exile from Nazi Germany. After receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946 he said, “Not the preached, but the practiced Christianity, among the powers that shaped and moulded me, has been the strongest”. .

And today’s quote from The Writer’s Almanac: “The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment, every sin already carries grace in it.”

Neither the gardener or the garden is imperfect. Both are perfect at ever moment, however many weeds or straggly branches or extra pounds or unkempt beds, carrying grace within them.

An imperfect, slightly out-of-focus, photo of a perfect flower.