"And after this, with bodily sight and in the face of the crucifix that hung before me, which I beheld continuously, I saw a part of his passion: contempt, spitting and soiling and buffeting and many languourous pains, more than I can tell and frequent changing of colour." (Chapter 10)

My oldest daughter has been talking a lot about "messy" recently. She's written about it, spoken about it, and has explored the concept through art. According to her, life is inherently messy but that's OK. In the midst of the mess, God can speak to us. And from the mess comes insight and healing. We shouldn't run from messy, but learn to embrace it. Even if it's icky or we're uncomfortable, messy can be good. Hmmm, I think when we talk. Great concept.

Here's the rub. I just figured it out this morning. I don't like messy. I don't like gunk and hurt feelings, and misunderstandings and quarrels, and making mistakes and getting it wrong. I don't like being confused, or picking up other people's trash, or seeing friends around me in pain. I JUST DON'T.

So when I come to the passages in Julian of Norwich that talk about blood and drying skin, and sweat and skin tearing, I let my eyes keep reading and disconnect my mind and my emotions, letting them go some place untouchable. Except that now, as I'm writing this, it's touching me. And I realize that for us to be alive, Jesus had to embrace all that was messy and ugly and hurtful and broken, that He had to live into it and die by it.

I don't like that I have to be OK with messy, but I know that I have a good role model. I know that when it feels like I'm falling, God still sees that I'm standing. I know that His love, at least I'm trying to believe that His love is so big, it looks at the mistakes I make as I try to figure this all out, and covers it over. I'm choosing to believe that there's no condemnation no matter how I do today. That it's the effort that is perfect, and even when it's not, even then there is grace.

Original artwork by Aletheia Schmidt. Images of doves in corner uncovered in process.