The Wildness of God’s Creative Love

by Melannie Svoboda SND on September 17, 2018

I am a pretty orderly person. My clothes hang neatly in my closet. My underwear is carefully folded in my dresser drawers. The folders in my file cabinets are clearly labeled. And I clean my rooms on a fairly regular basis. (The operative word there is “fairly.”) But I am no neat freak. In fact, I’m one who never liked the maxim: “Order is heaven’s first law.” (Those words were penned by Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man.)

I don’t like that quote for two main reasons. First, I believe there are far more important things in heaven (and on earth!) than order. What kind of things? People… love… freedom… mercy… forgiveness… creativity… fun… awe… to name a few. And secondly, too much order can lead to death. Historically, for example, the most tyrannical governments tend to be the most orderly. I remember my Old Testament professor, Father Demetrius Dumm, OSB, saying, “All the trains ran on time in Pharaoh’s Egypt.” All the trains ran on time in Nazi Germany too. Despotism tends to be more orderly than, for example, Democracy.

So when life seems chaotic—on a personal, national, or global level—we sometimes long for more order. Such longings are understandable. But we must never sacrifice other more important values just to insure more order.

In this regard, we can learn from Jesus. Jesus’ life was far from orderly. He was born of poor parents in a stable. Shortly after his birth, his parents were forced to flee with him into a foreign land because of Herod’s drastic means to insure the order of his rule. Jesus’ ministry had something of a serendipitous spirit. He taught those who came to hear him speak. He cured those brought to him or whom he happened to encounter along the way. He allowed his schedule to be interrupted, his plans to be changed. He never forced people to follow him or to accept his teachings. Instead he gently invited them. And finally he was put to death by a totalitarian regime who viewed him as a threat to their established order.

I was musing on these thoughts about order and I ended up writing this short prayer-poem. I call it “The Wildness of God’s Creative Love.”

 

Creating God,

I want to fix this situation. I want to tame this person.

I want to make things right or (at least) neater again.

As if order was the measure of Vitality, Goodness, and Righteousness.

After all, Genesis shows you bringing order out of chaos

Through the power of your spoken word: “Let there be…”

And, we are told, our first parents

were made in your image and likeness.

So, it’s easy for us to imagine Adam hoeing his straight little rows

Of beans, tomatoes, and cauliflower.

And we can picture Eve arranging her spice drawer

In alphabetical order, from allspice to za’atar.

But that’s our fantasy, our bias. It does not reflect your reality.

For how did the universe begin?

As a vast sea of exploding stars!

And the earth, in its infancy,

Was an orb of erupting volcanoes and torrential meteorites.

And so, order is not heaven’s first law.

Nor is neatness the hallmark of your modus operandi.

On the contrary, Wildness is. Exuberance is. And Sweet Surprise.

(All pictures from Pixabay)

And so I pray: may I never forget

that beneath and within,

Between and around all things

there exists a life-giving untidiness,

A pleasureable disarray.

A charming unruliness—

All mere hints

Of the Wildness of your Ever Creating Love.

 

On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being messy and 10 being orderly) where do you put yourself? Are you happy or dissatisfied with where you are?

Have you ever let go of order for the sake of a higher value?

How do you experience God’s wild and reckless love in your life?

 

I found a song that seems to capture today’s theme. It’s called “Reckless Love” and is sung by Cory Asbury.

I welcome your responses to today’s reflection, poem, or song.

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen September 17, 2018 at 1:46 am

Sr. Melannie,

I just woke up to let the dog out. I saw your email.

I like order a lot. I probably hoover around 9.

I have just retired and am trying to put some kink of routine in my new life. Maybe God is trying to tell me to let go a little more.

Kathleen

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Judy September 17, 2018 at 6:19 am

The fog melting away as the heat of God’s love banishes it from one’s mind, heart, spirit, soul is powerful! Thanks!

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Cathy September 17, 2018 at 7:29 am

My house is not orderly today. Things did not get cleaned as they usually do on my weekends off. But yesterday, I cooked and then I visited a friend in need of comfort. Her father passed away on Saturday. It doesn’t matter that those other things didn’t get done. They can wait. Friends and people can’t. Orderliness can sometimes and should sometimes be put aside. Thank you sister, for reminding us.

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Mary September 17, 2018 at 8:40 am

I’ve always been more of a Mary than a Martha, so would fall at perhaps a 5 on the scale. I personally feel a little uncomfortable in a pristine, perfect environment because it feels like perfection is the major concern of the person……and I am no where near perfect, nor do I want to be. Gentle chaos suggests new ideas, evolution of a sort, change is in the wind. Order makes us feel that we are in control of things in our life, but the Spirit blows where it will, we are told, and that puts the reigns in the hands of the Spirit.
When I have to riffle through stuff in order to find something, I often have the gift of finding an unexpected treasure I had forgotten about. That to me, is given from the God of surprises! No chaos, no surprises!

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Lori October 8, 2018 at 9:36 pm

Amen! Mary, you are kin to me. Surprises are God’s Gifts with chaos sometimes included. He wants You to Have it All.

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Jean Canatsey September 17, 2018 at 9:38 am

I’m probably about a 7 on the neatness scale. I like things to be neat and orderly but my life is much too messy to accomplish it. People, circumstances and even just the need to read a book or write a letter seem to get in the way. I have fairly neat closets but not so much my drawers. I have piles of mail on my kitchen bar and stacks of music and important papers in my office. When I finally get around to sorting things, I am often surprised by what I had at first missed.
I used to work for a priest who had stacks of papers piled on the floor around his desk and said he knew where everything was so no one should try to organize what to us looked like chaos. I think he had it right….

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Mary P September 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

Your reflection reminded me of the time a few years ago when I felt that my life was a “mess”, both in my job and certain relationships. And my home seemed to reflect that messiness, too! My spiritual director suggested that I allow my prayer to be “messy”. Taking her suggestion to heart later that week, I remembered a plaque I once saw which said: “Bless This Mess”. Although the saying was probably meant for the untidiness of a room or desk, it resonated with what I was feeling and possibly needed, and it became an invitation to ask God to “bless” the messiness of my life, to offer it to God, and ask God to help me see the sacredness in the mess.

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marilyn woidat September 17, 2018 at 10:05 am

Thank you, Sister Melanie,
Your message described my organized German genes.
The Reckless Love hymn helped me to finally cry after hearing of
sister=in=law’s death in early September.
Thanks for being there for me each Monday.
LOve and prayers to you, Marilyn

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lori October 8, 2018 at 9:44 pm

Marilyn, God bless your precious sister-in-law. I last saw my husband too, on his deathbed – late September. They live on in our hearts and on earth because God has them secure in His Prescence.
May the Lord Bless your soul. lori

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Claire September 17, 2018 at 10:24 am

So full of insight for our time. It reminds me of Leonard Cohen – “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”.
I was pleased to see your well deserved recognition as “Blessed Among Us ” in GIVE US THIS DAY recently. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

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Deb Walsh September 17, 2018 at 11:05 am

Loved the poem and the song, and especially the image of God’s reckless abandon in loving us! I tend to live my life in the midst of some gentle to moderate chaos, but it’s usually caused by the people I love and their needs, so I’m ok with it. Also, being a reader, I find neatness eludes me—always books and papers here and there, or grandchildren’s toys and books. When we’re first in love, we all find that wild freedom in being with the person we love—very reassuring to think of God being wildly in love with us!!

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Sandy Zabierowsky September 17, 2018 at 12:17 pm

My life has always been chaotic. Our children grew up with everyone welcome in our home. Hence we lived in a “community center ” setting. I cooked a meal everyday and washed the dishes everyday. Our clothes were clean and we had our ups and downs and tragedies also.
I’m close to 76 years old and my life has meaning to me. Very happy that I can leave my house, no matter what it looks like and go to Bible Study or meet cousin’s and friends for lunch. God is merciful and loves all of us. Thank you for reminding me that an orderly life is not always the best. My Mom would disagree with you.

Blessings,
Sandy

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Linda September 17, 2018 at 12:24 pm

I love the image of Eve alphabetizing her spices! Doesn’t everyone?

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Karen September 17, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Beautiful poem. Great reminder. I am in a new job and feel overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork. As I write this I look at a desk piled high with “to do” items. I strive to be an “8” but in reality I am more like a “3”.

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Patty September 17, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Thanks for the reminder during this too mixed up part of life..
Recently during imaginative prayer I was in a tiny rowboat with Jesus and he was rowing wildly fast and it was so darn loud.
He said, Hang on, we’ll get to the quiet drifting pretty soon. Hang on to me.
Patty

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Jan Toler September 17, 2018 at 2:19 pm

I like order as well but it occurred to me recently that it’s impossible to keep everything tidy whilst in the midst of creating art. A certain amount of minor chaos is necessary to create something beautiful. Thank you for today’s post.

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joan metzger September 17, 2018 at 2:22 pm

I liked the song “Reckless Love” very much, as well as the rest of your blog. I think of wildflowers, they don’t grow in rows.
At my age [68] I never want to pass up an opportunity to visit with a friend, or enjoy a meal together. Forget the schedule, laundry and yardwork definitely take a backseat to friends and family. God has put these people in my life for a reason.
I’d rate myself at a 6 on the neatness scale. It would be higher, but I dislike dusting!

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Joanne September 17, 2018 at 3:28 pm

…There exists a life-giving untidiness…

Thank you, Sister, for this image. This is what I have been searching for to hold in prayer. I couldn’t name my unsettled feeling until I read your inspired words. Thank you for being God’s instrument. May He bless you.

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john September 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

I think it was Mary who replied that in her searching for one thing she finds another. I think I’m like that. Beautiful prayer/poem!

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Sister Mary Eamon Lyng September 17, 2018 at 7:54 pm

Melannie,
I like order and I work better with order; however, because of a day’s unexpected surprises, order may not happen at the end of the day!! I have to learn to live with that! Great reflection!
Sr. Eamon

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Annie September 17, 2018 at 11:46 pm

I’d like to be neater, but I love being freer. I have to be in the right mood to organize things. I love your poem!!

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Thomas D September 18, 2018 at 1:29 am

Sister Melannie, I loved the triad of “wildness, exuberance, and sweet surprise” from your poem!

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Charlene September 18, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Dear Sr. Melanie,

Loved today’s; both poem and music. I read this and thought of the saying ‘cleanliness (I think of as order) is next to Godliness’. Somedays I’m an 8+ and somedays a three which doesn’t say much for order in consistency but I recognize when order is needed and of course, recognize how much I need the help of God in my everyday.

Thank you for this beautiful reflection. Have a blessed week.

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Elizabeth Hillegas September 19, 2018 at 5:26 pm

Dear Sr Melanie. My home is organized but one certainly can’t eat off the kitchen floor. Once when a political solicitor was at my front door, we both watched a large fur ball roll down the hallway and right out the door past the solicitor’s feet. We had a good laugh over that! So, I am probably a 6/7. Thank you for your encouragement to continue to listen to God and to realize that my orderliness is not God’s orderliness. Life is messy sometimes, and I’ll continue to try to experience God’s way of nudging and loving me. You are a blessing!

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Marilyn September 20, 2018 at 9:19 am

Hello….I have always enjoyed your writings and then a friend introduced me to your website. Thanks to her that I can enjoy your thoughts daily.

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Sandy S September 21, 2018 at 6:18 pm

Sister. Love your poem. Such beautiful insight. God bless

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Karen September 26, 2018 at 9:04 am

I have always liked order. But 12 years into marriage with a hoarder in denial and an 11 and 8 year old and you can guess I can control much in the way of order. I’ve struggled with this for years now. So I liked your poem and reflections but took special solace in the song choice. I hear it often on our radio, but really didn’t listen to the words until now. It will give me comfort from now on, reminding me that God is in control ultimately and my ‘curses’ are also my greatest blessings most of the time. thank you, Sister.

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