I n our house, we have always gone to great lengths to protect that time in the evening that was once reserved exclusively for the family dinner. Even in the years of youth sports and school events, we did pretty well at sitting down together to break bread…even if it was only for 15 minutes between activities.
Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.Terence McKenna
Often more challenging than getting everyone together nightly for a family dinner was planning for it. Inevitably, there was at least one night in which we began meal prep and realized that there was no clear collection of ingredients on which to base a meal. Well, at least for me. Undaunted, Sally invented “concoction night” – a night when she would explore the refrigerator and pantry for anything available and throw it together into something unexpected. I grew to love these nights.
Commenting on a recent concoction that I found delicious, Sally quipped that “flavor hides in the chaos.”
Last night, we attended a Kentucky wedding that brought all sorts of people together. The ceremony was held in a banquet hall that afforded one the opportunity to clearly see the wedding party as well as the attendees. It was a curiously motley group of spectators ranging from those arrayed in dress loafers to those in cowboy boots; from ball gowns to blue jeans.
As the event turned from ceremony to party, the revelers erupted onto the dance floor bringing much of the colorful chaos of the crowd into harmony through music. From classic rock to country to rap, the group moved and grooved in random synchrony creating the impression of choreographed unity. The chaos was still there but somehow it seemed ordered in its own, beautiful, way.
At the same event, one of my sisters commented on the crazy disorder of her house in the wake of children and those prime years of disarray as they grow. I only smiled as I quoted Trace Adkins: “You’re gonna miss this.”
Most of us expend tremendous energy trying to bring order to our lives. We seek to control the randomness of life and manage the unexpected. In this, we all are perpetually disappointed. The saddest part of our quest to manage it all to a properly ordered result is that we often miss the beauty of these chaotic moments as they unfold and then pass into memory.
Flavor hides in the chaos. Existence finds texture along the rough and tumble fringes of the unexpected. Life grows fuller through the randomness that forces us into new places. That jarring feeling of the unanticipated may shock the system but it always fulfills its promise to bring something new and unknown into your life.
Painful or joyful, change rides on the wings of chaos.
Today, we awake at the edge of another Christmas Season and the new year. As you contemplate the year behind and the moments you’d like to see ahead, consider chaos and its role in your life. Not because you can eliminate it through planning, but because you might pause to consider its gift to your experience along the way.