English grammar wasn’t taught at my grammar school in the 1960s. But Latin grammar was. Latin has six main tenses (I just checked!): three non-perfect tenses – present, future and imperfect, and three perfect tenses – perfect, future perfect and pluperfect.

Perfection. Imperfection. A robin or an ox-eye daisy: perfect. A lop-sided cake or a violent act: imperfect. Is it wishful thinking to expect things to be perfect? The reality is that, though in parts (the view of Earth from the Moon, say) ‘the world looks very beautiful and full of joy to me’, we live in a world where there is poverty, climate change, coronavirus, racism, unrest, disease, war and death. And we don’t like it – although we contribute to it.

The present may not look too rosy. Tiny or towering temporary triumphs happen, but also travesties and tragedies. Will we, one day, have a Future Perfect or Perfect Future? If you believe that the future is entirely in the hands of human beings and that goodwill will prevail, then there could be a Perfect Future, though history suggests otherwise. So is there an alternative? If you believe in God, you might say ‘yes’, as God has promised a new heaven and a new earth of perfection: Paradise restored. Future Perfect.

Meanwhile, we live in the present. Jesus said don’t worry about tomorrow. Live today. How? Enjoy God’s gift of this very minute. Live in faith and hope. ‘Leave no tender word unsaid; love while life shall last.’ That poem goes on to say that ‘Power, intellect and strength, may not, cannot last.’ The grace, mercy, love and creativity of God does last. In the midst of concerns, bask in that.


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