Sunday, 27 December 2015

This Messy Life

Christmas 2015 has come and gone.

There's a photo-bomber in every crowd!

Trying to arrange everyone for the annual Christmas shot is a challenge.

...but finally, it happens. Quick, shoot before someone moves.
This year, we were the ones to decorate the little tree in the woods.
The Christmas visitors packed up and left yesterday morning. The last sticky kisses and lingering hugs have been exchanged, and off they go. No more “Five Fat Days of Christmas” -- non-stop feeding of 12 hungry mouths. No more noise of children playing and running through the house, computers pinging, adults discussing lofty issues. No more dishwasher running non-stop. No more coats and shoes piled up by the door, and suitcases lying open in hallways. No more mattresses on the floor and pillows on the sofa and stray socks and mittens under the coffee table. Oh bliss, the house is ours again. But I miss them already!

I miss them already, but ... The hardest thing for me when the kids come home is giving up  my office/studio, my own space, my circle of quiet where I am free to create and dream without interruption. When the family comes home, however, the work table collapses, the design wall comes down, and the Murphy wall-bed descends. My space becomes “Bedrooms R Us” for whoever needs the space.

Right now, I have a number of projects on the go. What will happen to those budding ideas that still need development? Will the ideas still be there when I pull the projects out of the closet where I tucked them a few weeks ago? In Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book Big Magic, she suggests that ideas have a life of their own; they visit you, calling out, “Okay, here I am! I’ve chosen you to make me real and send me out into the world.” But if you tell those ideas, “Later, later, I haven’t time now,” they may just give up on you; they may skip town and lodge in someone else’s heart, one who is more receptive! That may sound  hokey, but I suspect there’s some truth to the theory. I have more than a box full of unfinished pieces that were begun with a passion and fizzled out through neglect.

It’s a conundrum: I love my family, I love it when they come home, I love the bustling and busy times, the photobombers who mess up photos, the bits of tinsel stuck to the carpet. I love the deep bond that’s strengthened when we spend time together.  But I also love my calling, to follow creative ideas, do something with them, and send them out to the world.

[Interlude: at this point I stop writing, stumped. You  shouldn’t be writing things like that, the voice in my head tells me sternly. Your calling as a mother is sacred. How can you even compare it to something like this creative urge you have to make sense out of your life and then share it with others? Surely you know what your priority is. Bad mother! Bad mother! Ah, guilt. The gift that keeps on keeping on.]

So, defeated, I go to bed. Overnight, something happens. We are in the season leading up to the Festival of Epiphany, January 6, observed as a church festival to celebrate the coming of the Magi, the first non-Jewish people to worship the Christ child. In non-church language, epiphany has come to mean a flash of insight or realization. My epiphany arrives overnight.

Messy: life is messy! It is not an either/or proposition, with clear lines around discrete packages, which you must choose between;  it’s a “all this and more” event. You say it’s a conundrum? NO! It’s blessings upon blessings! And really, at its heart, that is the message of Christmas.

Whether you believe the facts of the Biblical story or not, the kernel of truth embedded in this sacred literature, to me, tells the story of a Creator who had infinite possibilities to choose from, and what did (s)he choose? To enter our messy world and be one of us for a time, to pour out love into this world indiscriminately and recklessly and generously, inviting  us to swim in it, to drink it in, to enjoy it in all its messy ramifications, and pass it on to others.

With love comes pain. With love comes hard decisions, disappointments, anxiety, sacrifices, discomfort ... and more. But to live without it? Unthinkable. What a gift!

This insight eases my soul. It’s time to pull out my latest project and see if the ideas chose to stay and bless me, or to leave and bless someone else. That too is good.

May your life this season and all year long be blessed with messiness, beauty, ideas, hugs and sticky kisses, and all the other things that spell love. 

Post Script: When I pulled out my project and looked at it with fresh eyes, I realized some parts of it would need to change. Apparently, ideas do have a life of their own, and they, like us, need a time of quietness and rest to develop properly. Another lesson learned in this messy life!