At the end of July we sadly lost our beautiful Black Labrador Max. He’d been suffering for some time with aging and arthritic joints, along with a few other complications. He was a fabulous dog with a wonderful nature, he was also incredibly well behaved (for a Lab!). We were all devastated to lose him and even a couple of months on there is a big hole where he once was, the grief of losing a much loved family pet is a very real one!

One of the joys for me of owning a dog was it meant I had to take him out on daily walks. Like most dog walkers, I had my usual routes and routines according to the time I had available. Its amazing how many other dog walkers (and their dogs) you get to know, often sharing part of the walk with them.

Its funny, but even after Max had gone, I still felt the need to carry on my walking routine. After all it’s a great way to start the day, a bit of fresh air, exercise, and for me – time to pray! This has become my pattern and I needed to continue it. So I have!

Now I’m the person who goes on a dog walk – without a dog (for now at least).

I was walking through Otterspool this morning, the weather was a bit miserable and I suppose this reflected my mood. As I looked around me, I was saddened at the overgrown state of the woodland. The path down to the park is completely overgrown and the weeds and tree growth are such that you literally have to move off the path to get around them. Its looks a mess.

As I walked on though, my mood lifted and in the mess I began to see a natural beauty and it struck me, that this is life!

You see, we work so hard to keep our gardens (read ‘life’) in check, making sure to trim the hedges and edges, cut the grass with stipes, so that things look neat and tidy on the outside, but that’s not real is it, its just for show, because underneath the hedges and in the borders there are weeds and leaf clutter. In Otterspool, it was the other way round, underneath the mess there was an inner beauty just waiting to burst through. That’s more the reality isn’t it?

It struck me that life is messy, there are lots of things going on in life that could easily snare or entangle us. Things that might suffocate us and stop us from growing. I remembered a phrase that an old mentor of mine used to use ‘Wherever there are people there are problems’ – how true! But as I looked at this scene, it became apparent to me once again that God is in the business of mess, you see, under all the rubbish, lay the good stuff and it is beautiful, but you can’t have one without the other. I suppose what I trying to say is simply this, there will always be ‘mess’,  God doesn’t give us the promise of a pain free life. If we want to experience the fulness of love, then we will also have to experience pain. There will be seasons in life when this is in ‘order’, times when everything seems to be going well but there will also be seasons when the ‘weeds’ seem to take over.

It’s into this, that we must learn that God is in the business of mess, as the creator, he is constantly shaping and moulding in every situation, you could even argue that there is a beauty in weeds! Things never stay still, things must continue to grow, and so to we must use whatever situation that arises to help us grow in our faith. Trusting that He is in the mess of life and working with us if we allow him to, so that we will be able to radiate his beauty in whatever life may throw at us.   

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