Photo Courtesy of Scott Hagan
To find a form that accommodates the mess,
that is the task of the artist now. - Samuel Beckett
I came across this quote while studying some from a personal productivity guru, David Allen. He wrote the book Getting Things Done and is a leader among leaders in the area of organizing your life and work in order to accomplish the stuff of your dreams: which might be conquering the world or just getting your desk cleaned off and email inbox down to empty. I don't much about Beckett but, his quote inspires me. He died in 1989 is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. I've read that "his work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature," which is exactly what my mind turned to when I saw his quote. Our lives are often the mess.
Our lives are messy. One corner of my desk is messy and if you saw into the junk drawer in my office you would then know messy, for sure. The world is messy. Relationships, which make up most, if not all, of what it means to live in this world, are messy. There are loose ends. There are broken connections. There are unkept promises. There are lists not yet completed. There are spills and breaks and cracks and falls. There is hurt, there are tears and even blood that is shed. Our lives are messy.
Beckett says that it is artists who find a form to accommodate the mess. I think it is the stuff of being human. We all try and make sense of the mess but, more than that, we all try and respond in a form that makes sense. What is the form for you?
The critical, epic, history-altering truth proclaimed by believers at Christmas is captured in the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus' birth allowed for his life which set up his death and resurrection. But, as Christians, we don't stop at Easter and the life we have because of it. Jesus Christ doesn't just make life possible he also determines its shape.
What form have you found to accommodate the mess? Everyone has one but, are we satisfied with the shape our lives have taken? In the busyness of December, how can we allow our lives to be patterned after the shape of the One whose very birth gives us reason to celebrate? Paul said we are to be transformed as we are conformed - not the world - to Christ who gives our lives shape and purpose (Read Romans 12). In the midst of the mess may we find the grace of Jesus.
The Rev. Scott Hagan is pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church in Columbus, GA.