The chaos isn’t going anywhere

candles in chaosby Emily Ralph, associate director of communication

“Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?”

I couldn’t get my friend’s words out of my mind.  I had been in my new home for four months and still my walls were bare.  It was time.

We spent all day Saturday hanging photos up the stairwell, decorating the top of the piano, getting the right tools and wine-colored candles for the candelabra in the living room.  I still had work to do, but I felt a wave of satisfaction every time I passed one of my newly decorated walls.  I was settling in.

By Monday, the satisfaction had dissolved into gloom.  It was my day off, but all day my mind was running wild with everything I still had to do, questions I still had to answer, people who still needed my help.  Emails and texts were flying with work problems that couldn’t wait and I found myself growing increasingly tense as my Sabbath day ticked by and, instead of feeling rested and prepared for the week, I felt exhausted and grumpy.

How is it possible, I wondered, to go back and forth so quickly from joy and satisfaction to frustration and fatigue?  I remembered my spiritual director reminding me that times of transition can be chaotic—it’s normal to feel emotions run wild in times of drastic change.

It was time to take charge of the chaos in my mind.  I lit the candles around my living room, thankful I had taken the time to decorate.  I sat down with my journal and began to pour out my heart to God, the good and the bad, the joy and sorrow, the times of feeling at home and the times of feeling lost.  I closed my eyes to meditate and heard God’s invitation: Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?

The chaos and uncertainty weren’t going anywhere, I realized.  I could continue to fight it, to struggle to find balance and order, or I could settle into the chaos and accept that sometimes life is like that.  God was present, even in the chaos.

As I felt a peace begin to tip-toe into my heart, I slowly came back to awareness of the room around me.  A steady “drip-drip-drip” was coming from near the fireplace.

I startled and jumped to my feet, dashing across the room to discover that one of the candles on my newly hung candelabra had tipped sideways and had, apparently, been dripping for some time.  Wine-colored wax covered the wall, the floor, the armchair.

As I sank to the floor, gentling trying to scrape wax off the wood, I fought tears.  This was exactly the kind of day I had been having.  I couldn’t even meditate on settling into the chaos without—

Suddenly I began to laugh.  The chaos wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  Sometimes life is like that.  Why don’t you take off your coat and stay awhile?