One Glorious Mess, Together
One day soon we will be gathered together before the throne, because of the love of a Saviour who invites us just as we are.
“Yes to your snotty mess coming on Saturday. That would be glorious!” was the text I sent to my one sister, hours before her arrival.
Holidays are messy. There’s no way around it. Loved ones spill into our hallways and living rooms and bedrooms, filling them with the sounds of laughter and sniffly noses and coughs. But the truth is – if we wait for our lives to become un-messy, we will never meet.
It was days before the big feast; I’d purchased the ham shank and was googling recipes on how to baste with mustard and brown sugar. I’d purchased special cheeses and meats and cookies and yogurts, but more than that – I’d been preparing for months for this gathering, since summer, picking strawberries and saskatoons and dousing them in sugar and freezing them. I’d picked and de-stoned cherries from my neighbour’s orchard, cooked them and then turned them into cherry cheesecakes, freezing them for the day when we’d celebrate with my sisters. We’d planned sleeping arrangements, pulling in an extra bed frame from the granary and planning for our sons to sleep at their grandparents’ across the yard so their rooms would be available. Preparations had been made.
And then the texts began. One sister and her family had been fighting colds for two weeks. She recorded the sound of her toddler’s cough. The other sister was coming down with a sore throat and her son was sneezing. Should they still come? Meanwhile my oldest was still battling a runny nose. The one sister decided it was too much, and she canceled. The other said she would let me know the next day, just hours before coming.
I cried. My daughter sobbed. I pulled out one of the special cheeses and served it with supper. We had been so excited to host.
Then, my husband told me to tell my one sister – the one who had canceled because she didn’t want to get everyone sick – to come anyway. And once that sister committed, the other one did too, and they came with their minivans full, with a flood of presents and hugs and air purifiers. They came and we opened windows and wine and then I pulled out the ham, so tender and warm. And I pulled out the strawberries and saskatoons to defrost for morning waffles with whipped cream, and when I told them how I’d been planning this since summer, how for months we’d been getting their rooms ready, it was their turn to cry.
And my one sister said, “It’s like Jesus – what he’s gone to do for us. Oh, can you imagine what a wonderful feast that will be?!”
Because all this time, he’s been preparing for our arrival. And one day soon we will be gathered together before the throne, because of the love of a Saviour who invites us just as we are, in our glorious mess. I hope you’ll come.
I am very disappointed by the Christian Courier deciding to publish this piece. Illness is not the same as mess – it can unfortunately sometimes have very serious repercussions. Our healthcare system is currently in crisis with children’s hospitals overwhelmed with patients and a shortage of children’s pain medication. Public health leaders are telling us to get vaccinated, wear masks, and stay home when sick. Yes, we are called to gather, but we are also called to look after the least of these, to serve and love and sacrifice for others, and to put other’s needs above our own desires. While I understand the difficulty so many have had over the past few years of having to be apart from loved ones, we still need to be careful and do what we can to keep our loved ones and our wider communities safe.