The image which heads this week’s email devotion, is a snapshot of two shelves that are part of the bookshelf which sits in my impromptu home office.
I have never really had a home office, per se, until Covid hit, and I found myself trying to repurpose what we call our “organ room” at home into a facsimile of my church office. In most ways my re-creative attempt was an utter failure. I have had five offices here at St. Peter’s in my 35 years on the pastoral staff. One in what is now the Family Life Center … two in the Augsburg Alley 1986 addition … and two in our current 2006 expansion, starting with Pr. Sarah’s office for a couple of years, and now my current workspace, which has been my work home for about a dozen years. Needless to say, no matter the location within our church building, my church offices have always created a more positive work environment than anything I fashioned at home.
But my home and church work spaces have shared one common characteristic over the years … each of them have featured bookshelves that can best be described as “a hot mess.” This picture does not do my home office bookshelf justice, in the number of books I shove into every available space … the sagging center of two of the shelves that have way too much weight on them … and the utterly incomprehensible arrangement of books that suggests a complete absence of organization. But I know where the books are, and their resting places have a comfortable familiarity for me.
I share this, under the devotional heading of “Life”, because they do in many ways represent “life” for me. They comprise a variety of topics from Harry Potter tales, to theology, to collections of quotes and poetry, to my Tolkien resource books, to a few NY Meets fan books and PSU tributes, to a a variety of disconnected works whose only unifying trait is that they were given to me by church and family members who thought I might enjoy them.
It is a description that is not unlike my “life” … in that it points to a collection of unrelated sources of experiences that sometimes crystalize into a momentary whole, but as often as not possess a randomness and spontaneity that struggle to achieve an integrated spirit. My books truly are an avatar for my life in that some represent core values and identities, some point to experiences I aspire to, some challenge me, some soothe my spirit, and some are just fun. Most days I am pleased by the diversity they represent … but some days they feel too chaotic to be of any use to me. They mimic the living of life to which I find myself called.
Maybe you have other “hot messes” in your world that both sooth and challenge you in your life journeys. Maybe they are gardens … or music … or art … or a highly developed skill set … or a collection of family experiences … or a sport you excel in … or a service ministry that owns your heart. But I pray you occasionally have moments when you can recognize a conduit for God’s presence in your life, in an avocation that you love and cherish … and that through that experience you draw closer to your creator and redeemer.