Messy & Beautiful

I’m in Houston with Cana and Ennie as their family adjusts to the addition of their ninth child, Evan Marie Immaculée. It’s quiet now compared to the previous few days when we, along with the baby’s Great Aunt Laura, her Uncles Jonathan and Chris, and her Tia Xhiv, each still reeling from the loss of Evan, gathered over several days for meals at the Hickmans to celebrate the Holidays, to welcome the newest member of our family, and to lend a hand at our new house.

Family life is beautiful and messy. So many people, each with their own ideas, desires, opinions, and feelings! So many socks and shoes and jackets, so many dirty dishes . . . and endless laundry.

In family beauty and messiness are intertwined. An argument over whose turn it is to clean up may follow peaceful conversations at the table. Everybody feels the toddler’s pain when his regular nap time routine is interrupted. But his messy behavior calls forth kindness, generosity, gentleness and self-control in the rest of the family. I notice the gentle way his older sisters scoop him up and distract him with a favorite game or snack. Communication is far from perfect, but love and forgiveness mostly prevail. It’s messy and beautiful.

The flicker of a candle draws our eyes toward the center of the dimly lit living room as we gather around the little flame before bedtime. Hushed voices repeat ancient prayers. The recitation of familiar words makes space for weary minds and hearts to rest in the love surrounding us.

The next morning I try to wrap my mind around our plan to “camp out” upstairs in our house while major remodel work progresses below. That work can’t begin yet because the house is filled with the previous owner’s books, clothes, and furniture, most of which I hope to sell or give away soon. It’s a mess.

I pause on our patio where I’ve tried to create a spot of beauty, a place for us to retreat . . . .to simply be. Already nature is teaching me that the big beautiful trees in our backyard are messy. Not only are leaves constantly falling from the tall oak, but a large branch, too heavy for me alone to move, has fallen too.

I sweep leaves off the chair and notice others floating down. I decide to receive the leaves as an invitation to enter today more fully into the messiness and beauty of love.

. . .the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Galatians 5: 22 & 23
Our Messy & Beautiful Yard

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