Life is messy. I’m not sure how many times I’ve thought or spoken some version of that phrase but I’m sure if I did I’d be staggered. There is just so much about everything – every person and animal and plant and organization and institution and season and minute of each day that won’t be packaged easily, that smells, that has dysfunction, that grows beyond borders, hopes, or expectations of what we think or assume it should be. Even the good stuff – the most wonderful stuff we can hope for or manifest – is striped with disarray: bad breath, goof-ups, poorly placed lines.
Life is messy. There’s no question about it.
When I dropped my kids off at school this morning Carol showed me a nest that had been shaken from its towering tree in a storm last night. A truly impressive abode! It measured a full foot across, and was woven sturdily with sticks and fabric, string and straw.
My first thought was for its architect(s). I wondered how they’d fared last night, where they were now. I shook my head at yet another example, in this month of so many examples, of nature’s fearsome, troublesome ways. Just when you think your home is safe…
But then my mind walked on, past that thought, to a new one: that nest was anything but messy. It was gorgeous, symmetrical, strong. It existed long enough to be fully formed, too. Fully functional. Fully home to what looked like more than one bird.
I thought instantly back to moments of awe I’ve known in the presence of spider webs, dew drops, layer upon interlaced layer of rose petals, opening toward sun.
And of my own house on those rare occasions when everything is put away, the dishes are clean, and two rambunctious babes are bathed and asleep in their beds.
Or times when I’ve answered all the emails and phone calls necessary, completed a project, prepared for a trip. When the food is ready for guests on time, I arrive at an event on time, the birthday cards are in the mail before the days they’re sent to celebrate.
Or that one, short breath during meditation when my frantic, monkey mind has stilled and I feel totally here, completely now.
In all of these thoughts, in all of the awe, I’m moved to say this: these things are real. They aren’t just icing on life’s cake. They’re every bit as much cake as the messes that surround them.
I’m wondering what would happen if, in our fearful, anxious-leaning states, when our houses are literally or metaphorically tilting and we don’t know which way is up, we told a new story about life – one that names and honors the mess, for sure, but, with every bit as much fervor, names and honors the order and the moments of peace and calm that are woven all the way through it.