Once a year, when we discuss St. Francis of Assisi, we begin with his most famous prayer. I keep the prayer on little blue slips of paper and pull them out every spring. Even though they are never where they should be (in the “saints” folder? “prayer”?), I always know exactly where they are. One year they sat for twelve months in the same place in my apartment. Yesterday I found them just where I knew they were, in my upper right hand drawer.
I wish I were neat, I wish I were pulled together, I wish, I wish, I wish. At times I think that everything would be perfect if I could achieve that still, antiseptic cleanliness that the tidy seem to have achieved. I can’t shake the feeling, though, that there must be some part of me that loves the chaos.
My life so far has been lived in a whirlwind: there’s little downtime, lots of activity, loads of people to love, and periodic moments of introversion amid the carnival of life. I woke up this morning to a messy apartment because I was out late last night, talking about faith and doubt and the eternal search for the perfect one-bedroom apartment. I suppose I could have gone home early to fold my laundry, but that conversation was worth sacrificing order.
St. Francis’ prayer for peace suggests we sow love, mercy, hope – I don’t see how that happens in a world in which everything is where it should be. Radical faith and love require us to shake ourselves up and turn our lives upside down, to jump into the chaos that does not hang on sensible answers and to believe that the wonder of a life fully lived will protect us from the uncertainty of trust.
Caravaggio might be my favorite artist, because he is so gifted at capturing the moment when clarity emerges from the midst of activity and something spectacular is revealed. Truly there are days when I yearn for order, but then I am surprised by another new joy that pops out of the active chaos of life.