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I can't recommend this book yet,
(YEARNINGS: EMBRACING THE SACRED MESSINESS OF LIFE by
Rabbi Irwin Kula) because I haven't read it. It just came out.
But this blurb had me thinking.
Life is messy and imperfect.
Living in this world is anything but simple. Facing disasters,
betrayals, and family problems, we yearn for answers - clear
paths, comfortable...easy solutions..... the messiness is the
sacred stuff that keeps us growing. And our ever present yearnings
for meaning and purpose, for love and happiness - to make sense
of it all - define our spiritual path and lead to wonderful
opportunities and discoveries. After all if you've never had
dirty dishes in the sink, you've probably never had a home cooked
Yearnings We hear that commercial
that says, "Life is messy. Clean it up." That's always
irked me. I supposed it was because it reminded me of my mother
following after me redoing things that I had already done around
the house. I somehow was never "clean" enough for
her. Messiness was anathema to my mom. "Clean it up!!"
But I think it has been a theme/lesson in my life to focus on
being where I am at any one point in my life and seeing the
blessings, not the mess. Consequently, I've walked my path in
the midst of lots of messiness. LOTS of it! Not just the dishes
in the sink that really don't bother me unless I know someone
is going to visit...or the days of dog paw prints all over the
kitchen floor or kid nose and paw prints on the patio door ,
but an alcoholic husband, a messy divorce, and the resultant
fallout of being a single woman amid the "working poor."
And along the way I've run into so many others who are working
frantically to "clean up" the messiness of their own
lives. We just can't seem to allow anyone to see the evidence
of messiness in our lives. We are so focused on the image of
perfection and harmony. Reaching for it, yearning for it...busy,
busy, busy at achieving some perception in our heads of how
it "should" be. And then when the dog tromps in mud
again, the kids smear jelly on the door again...AARRGGGHH! We're
frantic once again. We know it's going to happen again...dogs
are dogs, kids are kids. Why do we get so bent out of shape?
Or, more to the point, why do we "allow" ourselves
to get so bent out of shape? The biggest messiness I've come
across is that we're often afraid to trust again once we've
been betrayed in some way. Actually, think about it....isn't
that why we get upset with the dog? We resent having to clean
up those paw prints because we feel our work to mop and clean
has been betrayed yet again. How do we get beyond this? Surely
we're not meant to sit and wallow in a filthy pit of messiness....physically
or mentally or emotionally. That's not healthy. We know that.
That can lead to illness, depression, social censure...all sorts
of things that make life even messier still. I can't help thinking
of two things...my aunt humming and singing old Baptist hymns
while doing the dishes and puttering
around the house, and mom and I suddenly stopping in the middle
of cooking a dinner or doing the dishes to sling our dishtowels
over our shoulders and foxtrot together to Lawrence Welk's band
music emanating from the living room TV. You probably have your
own versions of this. The blessings amid the process. Be-ing
there, right there, amid the messiness. Yeah, it's easier to
do with the dishes...not so easy when you're working through
a divorce, the loss of a loved one, the betrayal by a close
friend or relative, financial crisis, or one of many other BIG
crises in our lives. But the clue is to start small. We know
the dishes are going to be dirty again. We know the dog is going
to get muddy again. We know that. That's the way of things,
yes? Life IS messy. It may be our decision that Chinet plates
are the answer. Or to get a cleaning lady to mop the floors.
Our focus may not be housework...it may be cleaning up manuscripts
by editing or cleaning up our bank account by balancing or tidying
up our coin collection by reorganizing. Then again, we may decide
that the process of washing dishes and floors brings us a feeling
of purging and accomplishment that nothing else does. Whatever
it is...be there! Right there in the process. Sing it and dance
it. Focus on the blessings of the process. Dishes for mom and
me was the time for communication and relationship. We did our
best communicating with our hands in dishwater. Somehow, we'd
forget that when it came to dusting and vacuuming when she'd
follow after me and redo it all. It was working together that
brought the best out of our relationship. I celebrate that now,
but sure didn't then! In fact, it took me a looong time to even
remember it! The betrayal of the dusting and vacuuming stood
out in my mind, not dancing with the dishes. I wasn't there,
you see. My head and emotions were with the betrayal. I wasn't
ready to learn the lesson until long after Mom had passed. Neither
of us was ready then. So the relationship was messy. But did
that negate the blessings that were there? Did it make those
moments of dish-towel dancing to Lawrence Welk less? Sure as
heck didn't!! And if I'd been there, seen that...though I don't
kick myself for not having been - I wasn't ready...maybe I could
have worked that into dusting and vacuuming somehow...who knows?
As I shouted at folks in WYT, my son is engaged. I sat last
night thinking about what "wisdom" I could offer him
and his sweetie for their future together. After all, his father
and I seemingly made a huge mess of things. What the heck could
I say and be creditable? Just this. Be there! Be in the blessings
amid the mess. Messiness is always going to happen. Hurt is
going to happen. Betrayal is going to happen. Be in the blessings,
know them, feel them. Sing them and dance them. Celebrate them
together. Find your dishwater and share them together. Don't
let the mess distract you from the blessings. The more you celebrate
the blessings, the more blessings you will find. The future
is unknowable. So, be here and now, right there amid the messiness.
Hopefully, I'll be able to purchase the Kula book soon. Maybe
I'll find more wisdom for them there.
My thoughts this Sunday.
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