Sunday, September 3, 2023

This Mess is a Place

A friend with a knack for being subtle gave me a framed, desk-sized poster which read, "This mess is a place." The act, as well as the gift made an impression. I cleared a space for it among the debris scattered on the desk. My interpretation of the gift focused upon recognizing myself as a person surrounded by clutter. I was not simply a messy, lazy, or disorganized person. The stuff suppressed and obscured my being. Or as 

One of many books
may be more fitting for today, "my authentic self." I was a mess. I used a variety of external materials, expectations, and beliefs to create an image. This worked in many circumstances. It was beneficial for my vocation. Yet my friend saw through the clutter, expressing acceptance and gratitude.

I continue the process of minimizing clutter. It has been a part of at least the past decade. While the focus has been on the extraneous stuff tossed in plastic totes, I have new undertakings parallel to the totes. I have surrounded myself with numerous expectations which have become overgrown. I liken it to clearing the underbrush from trees so that both the forest and the soil can be restored. While both the soil and trees can continue living, neither can fulfill their original purpose encumbered by dense, nutrient demanding underbrush. It is important for the soil to be nurtured by moisture, sunlight, and rotting organic matter. Trees become stronger, more resilient, and express their beauty when not fighting for

Thick underbrush
nourishment. Living through the expectations of culture, organizations, relationships, and beliefs masks personal integrity and our natural beauty.

In my pastoral work, the initial directive was not to share personal information about the deceased at a funeral. Focus on Jesus. This will be an opportunity for conversion. That directive rimmed the trash bin a few times before I finally sank it. People sort out their spiritual needs without a paid, professional with a penchant for maintaining old beliefs glossing over the realities of a person known and loved by others. What is the purpose of a generic funeral? We opt for name brands, so why not fully and respectfully name the deceased and her/his connection with those gathered? Clear the underbrush and express the unique beauty and character of the person.                                                      

Pastoral activity

In relationships, whether they be personal or professional, expectations clutter reality. Assuming a role because it may be less challenging to another sucks the vitality out of that relationship. Once again, the underbrush has limited benefit. It provides coverage and distraction while negating the beauty and potential of each individual. People are adaptive and learn to survive in environments of various health. Survival does not equate to living. Living involves freedom and well-being in the present. I have lived and currently live in relationships where the underbrush has grown thick because it was less painful than removing it. I no longer want to navigate or get caught in the underbrush. Uprooting the old patterns while establishing my present self is slow. However, I tell myself that it is about progress, not perfection. Whether others in general or another in particular chafe at the change is outside of my control. I desire freedom of expression, movement, and growth without clutter. 

I accept myself and am grateful for life!

Thank you for reading.


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