How comfortable are you with chaos?
Chaos – messiness, struggle, difficulty – happens in our lives. Sometimes it is worse than others. Sometimes it goes on for a really long time. Your answer to my first question probably gives you some idea as to how well you handle those times.
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In Genesis 1, our world is born from chaos, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. But the earth became chaos and emptiness, and darkness came over the face of the Deep – yet the Spirit of God was brooding over the surface of the waters.
I love the image of the Spirit, brooding over, watching over, caring for, incubating creation. We tend to think of chaos as negative, but perhaps it is simply part of the process of transformation. Rob Bell has pointed out that the Judeo-Christian creation narrative is uniquely hopeful. Unlike many other ancient creation myths of that era that depict the earth and it’s creatures being born in the midst of violence and destruction, Genesis portrays a scene of “overflowing joy and creativity.” The Spirit/Sophia/Wisdom hovers over the chaos patiently waiting, incubating, and brings forth something beautiful and amazing.
What happens when we don’t deal well with chaos, but insist on control and order? I can understand wanting a place for everything and everything in its place, but I believe that sometimes when we stand rigidly, trying to tightly control events around us, it denies the creative power of the Spirit within and around us.
This may be a silly example, but I think it makes the point. I usually start my weeks with a fairly clean office. As the week goes on, it gradually progresses into a state of chaos. Multiple books lay open, or piled, on my desk and on the floor. Papers are alternately strewn or piled up. Colored markers have found their way out of their box to add splashes of color as they lay here and there. I’ve come to enjoy this descent into chaos, because I can feel the creativity of the Spirit swirling around me. I trust this chaos to be creative and I need to learn to trust the same chaos in the rest of my life as not signaling ruination and desolation, but change, growth and creative transformation.
I have the most trouble with my sermons when I try to force a certain direction. I’ve learned over the years that when I start to get uptight and stressed because it isn’t coming together, clearly I’ve lost the flow and am trying too hard. So, I get up and do something mindless to try to reset myself. This week I was sitting with a cup of tea, staring out the window, silently invoking the help of the Spirit and my library angels, and I suddenly felt like I’d found the flow of the sermon.
The Spirit, God, our Higher Self, the Source… desires to work in our lives with “overwhelming joy and creativity.” Our challenge is to change our perspective so that we don’t see chaos as negative, but as a creative, transformative power. We need to learn to trust our deepest intuition, to trust that sometimes the spirit must brood over the waters of chaos in our lives before we finally see the beautiful creation.
Sit back, bless the mess, stop trying to force, and go with the flow.