Saturday, May 30, 2009

Parables, pictures and prayers from Kaş ...untidy cupboards

We gutted the flat last year. Did a lot of big work. This month is about finishing. Today I await the electrician who will do the last of the light fixtures, and another guy with a big drill who will put up toilet roll holders and all those other bathroom bits you only notice in their absence.

The kitchen is shiny new, completed after we left last June. But yesterday I noticed the cupboard under the sink is already a mess. Gas bottle, wadded grocery bags, cleaning stuff, garbage bin, an old dishpan. Stuffed, not stored.

I’m picky about cupboards. I get a little crazy when people misplace things. I’ve never told anyone before, but whenever I come home from a trip (usually in the middle of the night) I can’t settle until I go through the kitchen and put things back where I think they belong.

Still, here it is--pristine space already overfull and scrambled.

Have you ever been a guest in a home that whispers peace and rest? No distracting clutter, no untidy projects lying about. Nothing to hint what your host is reading, whether she has a hobby or a load of unfinished paperwork. Sometimes as I’ve moved from guest to friend, into that space where I am welcome to help in the kitchen, or to poke around and help myself to what I find, I discover the spacious outward order has been achieved by hurried heaping and closing the door. Or that doors hide jigsaw puzzles to be oh-so-carefully unpacked and repacked just to find a coffee mug, an iron, or the vacuum cleaner.

People can be like that, too. Outwardly calm, apparently at rest and full of spacious joy, while inside all is jumble and clutter. When we arrange our lives so that we are always in a hurry, leaving no margins to reflect and unwind the jumble to look for God’s Presence, His order in it all, our calm is worn like a mask to cover confusion, thoughtlessness, and an untidy intellect.

More often with me, I just cram too much in--too many projects, too many people, too much information. Good stuff, and I may keep it all compartmentalized and organized with lists, time-lines, journals and disciplined regimens of so-much-of-this-or-that-each-day. I can even be admired for my management skills, or for the sheer quantity I can pack in. But the result is the same. An inaccessible complexity obscures clarity of vision, unhurried listening, deep reflection and attentive prayer. I’m present, but I may not be truly available—to my Lord, or to the people He places before me.

O Lord, teach me the way of an uncluttered spirit—inside and out. Remind me to bring stuff to You to see whether it belongs in my cupboard before I dump it in. Discipline me to leave space—margins—to reflect on the jumble of my days, and to notice what good stuff I’m tempted to cram in so as to bury the best stuff, the building of Your Kingdom and the dwelling in Your presence so that I mirror that gracious spaciousness that is real, truly hospitable, and life-giving.