Growth Is Messy
Going to our farm in the spring reminds me of two things: (1) Growth in the springtime is messy; (2) Beauty resides even in the messiness.
A case in point is the ‘grackle’ that runs down the property line covering an antiquated fencerow separating the fields of pasture. The tangledness of the ‘grackle’ to our eyes is a ‘sorry sight’ (note: not weighed down by the sorrow of Macbeth!). It’s untidy looking and my son-in-law tells me it’s an invasive species to Ontario. Yet, for our feathered friends—the sparrows, swallows, flickers and wrens—the grackle is a marvellous abode of shelter and safety.
Similarly, spiritual growth is often messy. Rarely a straight line up but a gyrating web of confusion just like the grackle. Oftentimes painful and discouraging and leaving us covered in burrs and thorns.
YET! Beauty resides even within the grackle. A moment of true repose. An ‘Aha’ revelation of new insight. An enlightened path is forged. A mother comforts her child and the little one smiles.
Yes, beauty exists even within such tangled parts of our existence. Interior growth is messy but it is still growth.
Keating understands growing pains when he muses,
Sometimes a sense of failure is a great means to true humility, which is what God most looks for in us. I realize this is not the language of success, but we have oversubscribed to that language. We need to hear about the interior freedom that comes through participation in the sufferings of Christ, the symbol of God’s love for everyone on earth. (Thomas Keating, The Human Condition)
Tangled failures for all of us.
But the good news is, as Teresa of Avila once observed, “Growth is growth even if it is at a snail’s pace.”
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