Every day in our life's journey holds its own special treasures, if we have eyes to see...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hopeful Chaos

My house is a disaster area, and I'm not just saying that. Ask my friends. We now have just a path where we can walk through one end of the dining room. The rest of it--table, floor, and chairs carry a six-inch or deeper layer of everything that came out of the kitchen.

And need I mention dust? The whole downstairs (and upstairs as well, if I dared admit it to myself) is coated with a layer of dust that not even a child could be oblivious of. Between displaced and misplaced articles, a week spent in California, and a general overwhelmed-ness, I'm managing only to keep mostly current with laundry, and put food on paper plates.

If we lived this way all the time, I think I would be buried beneath the weight of the workload. However, this is one of those hopeful chaotic situations that exists on the way to something better. My dear cabinet-making husband is installing a new a kitchen--which in this 1880's house means removing a certain amount of lathe and plaster (hence the excess dust), rewiring, and re-plumbing. However it will be worth any level of mess when once the new is in place.

The whole experience has led me to ponder chaos. I know I risk stating the obvious when I say that chaos is a stressful state and by nature disheartening. We seem to be wired to avoid it at every turn. And yet--chaos can be a good thing if--and that's a big if--there is a reason, a vision for something better just around the bend. I'm thinking of the verse "Where no ox is, the stall is clean. But much increase comes from the strength of an ox." I'm all for clean stalls, and clean dining rooms rank right up there along with them. But there was no way to avoid the chaos we're in right now if I ever wanted anything to change in the kitchen.

So it's really about vision, after all--the hope of the prize set before us--that enables us to go through the messes of life, whether in houses, jobs, school, relationships, or dreams.... We're on the quest for something more. Something higher. Something better. And so we persevere, not content, exactly, with the chaos, but secure in the knowledge that it exists in order to arrive at a more excellent state.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes You Have to go to Medford to get to Ashland...

I was in California last week, visiting my daughter (hence the hiatus from blogging), and while there, we took an excursion to Ashland, Oregon. We were on the hunt for a chair for her bedroom: something that would help create a reading nook and turn her rather generic space into one that more clearly reflected who she is. Not exactly sure what we were looking for, and unfamiliar with the territory, we ventured into a 2nd Hand/Antique shop off of Eighth Street. A quick perusal of the contents yeilded only one possibility--a set of 1880's Napoleonic parlor chairs in an interesting shade of green and a price perhaps a bit more than we'd anticipated doling out.

We passed them at a quick stroll, exited, and moved on to another shop. Nothing. But the owner of this particular store directed us down the road to a huge second-hand mall in Medford. In his words, "If you don't find it there, you won't find it anywhere." So down the road we went--a rather slow, traffic-light-pocked by-way of dubious beauty, eventually arriving at what we were sure was the place of which we'd been told. Wandering through a myriad of booths turned up only one possibility--another handcarved 1880's chair, closer to our price range, yet more of a desk chair than a setting chair. Recalling the man's statement, we almost purchased it, for fear that we would find nothing more in keeping with our shadowy picture.

However, after a period of hmm-ing and haw-ing , we ultimately headed back to Ashland to give the green chairs another look. That return trip brought its own set of anxieties: would the shop still be open? Would the chairs still be there, now that our eyes had turned back to them? Yes, they were, and before long, we were tootling down the road with one of them. Through the course of the week, we used that chair as the touchpoint to create a whole different feel in my daughter's room. A cover for her quilt. Pillows. Wall and window hangings: everything referenced back to our found treasure.

As I think back upon it, the whole experience seems fraught with allegory from the time we descended from sunshine in the mountains to heavy overcast in Ashland. We found the perfect thing there after much circuitous searching, and topped back into the sunshine just in time to watch the sun set. Having found something we didn't know we were looking for, it then became the reference for all successive choices.

How often we wander through our days looking for something we've glimsped in our hearts, be it direction, relationship, or dream, hoping we'll know it when we see it, and not totally confident we'll find it, after all. We wander about in the cloudiness of uncertainty, hesitant to depart from the familiar, fearful of missing the best, and not confident we know what that looks like. It is in these times that we often settle for less, as almost happened with the 1880's desk chair. True, it was lovely in itself with its dark carved roses and graceful cabrolet legs. But it was lesser.

Lord, from the lesser things in life, preserve us! May we not make decisions based on fear, but on the dream in our hearts. May we travel the byways in hope and faith that somewhere, sometime--if we do not settle for less--we will hold in our hands that which delights our heart. And may the knowledge that the sun still shines in the high blue heavens comfort and sustain us as we search the cloudy lowlands for treasure.