I shared a tiny room with another girl in college. We were eighteen years old and crammed on top of each other. We each had lofted bunk beds with our desk and closet underneath. All my belongings managed to fit in the twenty square feet of stacked room that I could call mine. And it was there I learned to abhor mess.
It was in that tiny space that I realized clutter means chaos and chaos isn't comfortable. It was there that I realized clothes needs to be folded and filed, hung up and tucked away or they're going to be tromped upon. And it was there I came to appreciate a nicely made bed. Comfort meant cleanliness and organization. It meant making a small space feel less crammed full and more thoughtful in its contents.
My soul feels tiny lately, like that stacked living situation.
It feels tiny and cluttered and terrified. It feels like all the messy things are shoved into a closet too small and I'm afraid to move from the front of the door because the contents will explode out. It feels like a notebook full to the brim, crinkled and coffee stained. There's pages and pamphlets and probably a lot of church flyers tucked so deep in the pages that the binding is about to break. My soul's restless and chaotic and aware of the mess.
And lately, my soul sees piece of itself that it truly doesn't like. Those pieces make me feel wild and caged and pacing inside. Those dark corners and rough edges are part of a soul I don't entirely recognize and yet, the comfort of it all have me positive it's mine.
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Sometimes I lay in bed at night and imagine my tireless self as a shelter dog. You know that one's they show on that commercial with the Sarah McLaughlin song that makes you want to cry. It's locked in a cemented cell with a chain link door and it's terrified. My dogged soul was picked up off the street and recognized for its potential, but first there's the mange and the fleas and the itch and the matted fur. There's the ribs that poke out and the tail too thin like a whip. It's an ugly shelter dog that needs more love than the world's got to offer sort of soul.
Thankfully, there's a Father larger than this world who sees potential rather than hopelessness. He sees the bald patches and knows fur grows back. He looks upon the mange and seeks out a salve for me. He watches me growl, bare sharp teeth at His healing hands and feels a sorrow for my scared aggression. He knows better than me.
I want to wait for a blank page. I want to sit back and see January 1st as the day to dive in to soul work, but I know that's not the point. I want a clean start and a perfectly black slate upon which to write out the chalky plans for this next chapter of life.
And yet, He is calling me, reaching out in the throes of Advent. The timing isn't accidental.
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Jesus was born in his day's equivalent to the shelter. He was welcomed by shelter dog souls and celebrated by other lost seekers. Donkeys brayed, camels rested, sheep bleated aside Him in the flesh. It was dark, cold, a starry sort of night in the middle of a desert place. If I can't see the tattered pages upon which was written Christ's tale, I'm blind.
He's not asking for my fresh start. He's not pushing me to wait until 2016's fresh promise on New Year's Day. He's here in Advent, in mess, in the tiny space that can't offer Him more than a cramped doorway. But, that cramped space is enough. That cramped space is hope for this shelter dog soul.
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These notes from the Epilogue of 2015 come with prayers.
Don't let my bared teeth distract you God.
I'm scared, uncomfortable, nervous; not mean. I won't bite, but be gentle with my ragged soul. Let your workers come in and remodel the walls to let in Light. Let words rearrange the clutter, toss out what's hindering me, and tear down distracting decorum.
I trust your process even if I resist it vehemently.
Don't let my bared teeth distract me God. Bring down the tight chops and let the open spaces you provide be my land of coconut milk and honey.