Messy Good –
Today I sat on a stool in the kitchen while my wife cooked a dish for the family Thanksgiving meal. I watched her boil noodles, crack eggs, mix in cheese, add milk, thick whipping cream and whip all of the ingredients into a thick bowl of mush. It didn’t smell, look, or appear appetizing at all. She then poured it into a large glass casserole dish and slide it into the oven. About an hour later out came one of my favorite dishes, “Nana’s macaroni and cheese!” It looked great, smelled even better and, when it cools off, I will have a large serving and enjoy every bite.
It’s amazing to me how something so messy and chaotically made can turn into something so tasty good and wonderful. This week has been rough! Someone close to me is going through hell and the only thing I can do is pray and offer words of encouragement. One of the hardest experiences to endure is knowing you’re powerless to stop someone else’s suffering. Pain, medicine, bad reactions, heartache, death. Life can be messy, unseemly, and at times unbearable.
However, there is a light which stirs in us a hope that the chaos, the turmoil, the misery, somehow, someway, will be made into goodness and worth the messiness life can bring our way.
This afternoon, on my way back from a community meeting, I noticed my windshield was dirty and depressed the level on my steering column which sprayed a chemical onto the filthy glass, causing the wipers to vigorously move left to right and back again several times. After a few moments it was clean, clear and bright. “Nice!, much better.” I thought. Almost immediately another big bug splatted on the windshield. It would’ve hit me between the eyes if not for the protective glass. “Sheesh!” was my next thought. I shook my head at “my kind of luck” and cleaned it again expecting another bug to sacrifice himself on my windshield just as the wipers finished their work.
As I waited for this kamikaze bug I reflected on life and our desperate desire for cleanliness, orderliness in a chaotic, messy world. No matter how much we want or anticipate an end to the unpredictability and muck of our existence the truth is life will never be our definition of spotless and safe. Each of us travel this road and our focus can be the bugs or the distance we are covering.
Most mornings begin with putting on a pot of coffee, taking the dogs outside and washing any dishes left over from the night before. Today, I followed my usual routine and had a greasy iron skillet left over that needed to soak. I placed it in the soapy water and went to get ready. By the time I had packed my bag, started the truck, prepared the now brewing coffee and put my dress clothes on I had forgotten about the iron skillet. As I was leaving the now darkened water caught my eye. What to do? Leave it or roll up my sleeves and scrub? I chose the latter.
Life has a way of not going according to our plans. We’d rather avoid the dirty work. It’s much more enjoyable when everything seems clean and ordered. However, oftentimes the hardest, grittiest, messiest parts of our journey come at the most inopportune time. We have a choice; do our best to perpetuate an illusion of perfection or get down in the grime of life and clean it up.