Two little girls. Two visits to two—very different—houses.
When I was small, I touched one of Mrs. Walter’s* knickknacks. I may have even picked it up, briefly. I can’t quite remember. But I most certainly moved it a few millimeters off its designated location. Mrs. Walter immediately shifted it back, even as my mother scolded me.
Mrs. Walter’s living room was extremely clean—don’t get dirt anywhere, take off your shoes! Filled with pretty, yet breakable items—don’t touch anything! Decorated in light colors—no food or drink allowed!
You see, the living room at the Walter’s house wasn’t for actual living. The pristine order there wasn’t to be disturbed, only observed.
When my daughter was small, she refused to play in Mrs. Eckert’s* basement. A few minutes after descending the stairs with the little boy of the house, she came back up to tell me it was too messy to play there.
Mrs. Eckert’s basement was quite dirty—you might not want to touch that! Filled with assorted items, from baseballs to blankets to bills—what can I actually play with? Had no categories, only clutter—where is the rest of this game?
You see, the play area at the Eckert’s wasn’t set up for actual playing. The chaos discouraged creativity instead of fostering it.
Order reigns supreme.
Order of any kind is banished.
Neither extreme is set up for living well.
These examples are about our external, physical surroundings, the houses in which we make our homes. What about inside ourselves, the spaces of our soul, where our heart makes a home?
Are there internal places so protected and precisely arranged, where we quickly shut down the smallest shift or change? It looks great, like we have it all together, but we aren’t free to change and grow.
Are there other areas where we refuse all rule and regulation, so nothing can be enjoyed or created? It looks lively, like we are busy, busy, busy, but we are actually stuck in place, going nowhere.
No control at all.
Neither extreme allows life or beauty to flourish in our souls.
What does it look like instead, when order and rule create space for creativity to run wild, beauty to grow, and life to flourish?
*The names have been changed.