Here’s the second rather whimsical part of my Messy Theology pontifications so far. Fortunately, I get to have 24 hours with Martyn and Jane this week, so may well have more to add after that conversation.
Please chip in.
‘Messy is best when it is like a piece of elastic: tied firmly to the centre and stretching out, distorting, wrinkling, changing shape and making ridiculous noises under strain in order to reach near and far but always springing back towards that centre and drawing others towards it.
‘Messy is how good parents bring up children: with an eye to the long story rather than simply to the short-term fix, with boundaries that give greater freedom, with an understanding that unconditional love trumps everything, that puts the needs of the weaker before their own needs, that is best done in community, that enables life to flourish, that doesn’t expect perfection but does long for love. That bears with, learns from and with, and forgives endlessly. Parents invest in tomorrow by creating a beautiful today. They know when to hold tight and when to let go.
‘Messy is the good gardener who plans diligently but accepts that in the end, she is hostage to the unpredictable powers of nature – weather, pests, accidents, better or worse than expected – and that the success or failure of the garden is a shared responsibility with a greater power than her own. The failures are mitigated and the joys are all the more profound because she is ultimately powerless to control them. She sows with a generous hand, tends responsibly, prunes wisely, harvests at the right time and shares the produce generously. She is organised but responsive: always happy to try out a new technique, plant something offered to her unexpectedly, to leave the planned task for the day and do something different. She sees beauty and completion in each stage of the growth cycle: everything is always complete in itself and nothing is ever complete.
‘Messy is the pilgrim on a journey who sees inspiration in the others far ahead and those far behind, who knows when to plod on doggedly and when to explore a side path or go off-piste on a whim. He laughs with those who started after him and now overtake him; he goes back to encourage those who have fallen behind him so that everyone makes it to where they are heading. He loves the way each person finds their own path and doesn’t expect them to walk the way he has walked. He walks towards the goal not for a prize or payment, but because he has been asked to walk that path. When the mists come down, when the path goes in circles, when it diverts through an unexpected route, he thrills in the adventure and never frets at the apparent waste of time.’