Do we fear mess?

The season of Lent invites us into the messy unknown.  By exploring spiritual practices and wrestling with any discord in our hearts, we invest in the Lenten wilderness process as we see in our friend’s blogs.

April Fiet dives into a physically space to sort through items – specifically Flip Flops – onto which she has clung.  After exploring her closet and Matthew 6:19-21, she says this:

I wonder if by storing up a cluttered junk pile in my closet, I have prevented myself from storing up other things that are more important.

Like April, I too have delayed the inevitable clutter throughout my house.  I’ve talked myself into avoiding the spaces which hold far too many things – most of which I’ve convinced myself are still very important.

As this week’s Revised Common Lectionary features the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Maren Tirabassi at Gifts in Open Hands presents us a prayer based on the text which explores the messiness of human connections:

God, help me love
this one who is walking away —
without imagining the worse,
anticipating a sweet, “I told you so,”
or curling up tight
around my own hurt feelings.

Throughout our lives, we face many relationships that have the same push-pull dynamic as the scripture.  Both the parable and this prayer addresses the worry we carry about our loved ones when they aren’t emotionally near us.  When we reconnect, we grapple with the dynamic between us and our loved one, hoping that our words and actions do not disconnect us again.

On her blog post “Playing in the Gray,” Margaurete Sheehan at Standing on the Side of Love meditates on the chaotic beauty that comes with aging.  After attending a chamber orchestra concert she states this:

The concert finished with a talk back with the audience. One of the musicians commented on how different it is for her to play music that she has played for many years. In her youth she concentrated on learning proper technique. She played as close as possible to what she understood to be the intent of the composer. As she matures musically her playing has changed and deepened. Now she plays with her own full self in conversation with the music. She did not say, but might have said, “What do I have to lose now? What I have gained!”

As additional gray hairs creep onto our scalps and we pass through the meridian of midlife, how will we allow life’s experience to transform the way we see the world?  How will we allow the messiness of aging and the unknown that comes with our later years to free us from the expectations of our culture?

Marguerite says this about her reflection experience:

This “playing in the gray” is taking me to a deeper place in my relationships; with God and family and friends and neighbors. Not without mistakes and stumbling around. But oh so much more alive.

How will we allow ourselves to “get messy” and find chaotic experiences during these last weeks of Lent, and how will they transform us?


The Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the Senior Pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois. Her essay “Always a Pastor, Never the Bride” was in the RevGalBlogPals book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit. She also has chapters in the books Sacred Habits: The Rise of the Creative Clergy and A Child Laughs: Prayers for Justice and Hope. Torigian blogs at http://www.michelletorigian.com.

RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.

2 thoughts on “Friday Festival: Into the Mess

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