My Christmas decorations have been strewn all over the kitchen island for nearly a week.
And, since my island is covered in nutcrackers and ornaments, I didn’t cook last week…except for the night I made Sloppy Joes from Manwich sauce which I don’t think can really count as cooking.
As I stare at a pile of dirty dishes, rolls of toilet paper sitting in the hallway, and a box of facial products on my bathroom floor, I keep telling myself things get messy before they become beautiful.
But, after watching a biography about Rich Mullins and seeing the movie “Wild” starring Reese Witherspoon, I realized that there is beauty in the mess.
Rich Mullins created beautiful music in the midst of his personal torment. Cheryl Strayed made peace with her messy past as she hiked those thousand miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. These people are what Brennan Manning calls a Ragamuffin; bedraggled, beat up and burnt out.
I’m a ragamuffin. My house is a ragamuffin. My life is a ragamuffin.
At first glance, this seems the opposite of sophistify. But, really it’s sophistify at its core… living as the real me.
I’ve spent so much time, so many years, trying to clean up the ragamuffin. Deny her. Put her out of sight and out of mind. But, that isn’t necessary.
When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.
To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.” -Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up and Burnt Out.
I am in the process of admitting my shadow side and learning who I am and what grace means.
I think it might mean that there’s grace in the stack of dirty dishes and the misplaced rolls of toilet paper. And, I think it means being able to create and learn and grow and share from right where you are.
See you in class,