The scents of urine, hay, animal sweat, urine and feces filled our noses. Bray’s, squawks, quacks, baa’s and squeals filled our ears. Rough wood, the prickle of hay and the gravel-like feel of feed filled our hands. A parade of on-lookers filled our peripheral view.
“Peace” is not exactly how I’d describe the feeling of our trip to a local petting zoo for a birthday party. More like “chaos” and “cacophony..” Overwhelmed by scents,sounds, new experiences and smells children’s responses varied from tears and fear, to delight. Parents responses varied from shouts of “Keep your fingers away front the teeth.” to- “At least use hand sanitizer after you touch that.” I think I saw one parent crouched in a corner, clutching a child’s blanket and rocking back and forth…. there was no baby involved… just a parent. Who’d lost it. Pretty much. ( It may have been me. Justsayin. Petting zoos make me nervous.)
As a life-long suburbanista- girl scout camp and childhood visits to a friends farm house and petting zoos are about the sum total of my barn experience. Girl scout camp involved horses and screeching pre-pubescent girls …. (Not peaceful.) Visits our friends farm involved much chasing of chickens.. (rather fun if you ignore the smell.) squeeing over pigs and brushing of horses manes while trying not to get stomped under hoof. Fun, but again: not peaceful.
As a mother of 3 boys, owner of 2 dogs and 2 cats- I often feel like I LIVE in a barn. (And, while I remember their births as taking place in nice, clean hospitals, I sometimes wonder if my children were actually BORN in a barn. They are genetically hard wired to leave messes and doors open. IMO.) With the exception of stolen moments in the early morning and late at night, my home is filled with video gaming college boys, 6th graders, nerf battles, lego battles and little knight stories…Not much peace. (It also kind of smells like a barn, with overtones of Scentsy….)
Barns do not produce peace. They produce poo. And noise. And chaos. And stink…with maybe quiet moments of peace…as a lamb lies nestled with it’s mother or piggies lie in a sleeping mass of pink.
And yet- over 2,000 years ago- a barn did just that. It produced peace.
There was braying and neighing and stink and wallow. There was squalor and chaos and a parade of on-lookers.
But, wrapped in swaddling clothes-amidst the chaos- was born peace. A miracle on so many levels.
This year, I feel like my life is a barn. It’s drafty, it’s overwhelming, it’s noisy and to be honest? With the continued battle with my husband’s cancer along with the stress of life and family….. it’s been stinking. It’s been painful. Pain is not peaceful. There have been moments of peace.. (mostly on beaches:P) But it hasn’t been peace-Full. I miss peace.
This morning.. I again read the story of that barn. I read of how peace was born into the world.. in the middle of chaos. In the middle of a tyrant’s slaughter of innocence….and I remembered peace.
I also remembered a teenager. One who’d already attempted suicide. (Sometimes a #fail is a good thing) One who was depressed and overwhelmed. One who was desperate for something.. and had been looking for it- in all the classic wrong places…. one who knew the chaotic effects of a parent’s substance abuse. A teenager who unexpectedly found what she was looking for. In a barn. A barn that was on a stage at a children’s Christmas pagent….where she found what she was really looking for-
The peace found in love, acceptance and forgiveness. The same peace that was born in that barn so long ago. Instead of peace wrapped in swaddling clothes- it was wrapped in her heart…tied with a ribbon of grace and laid in the barn of her life.
She, is me.
And today, in the middle of this barn, I again found that peace. In the fact that the chaos of my worries can bring peace. Peace that I don’t have to be enough. In the fact that I don’t have to have all the answers. In the fact that God is more than able to get us through whatever comes our way. (And whether we like it or not.) In the fact that I’m not alone.
Peace born in chaos. The dichotomy of Christmas. The mystery. The miracle. The beauty.
My life feels like chaos…. But–I’m asking God to sustain that manger miracle of peace in my heart….and I’m praying he does the same for you.
Maybe chaos doesn’t mean God isn’t involved.. it means he’s again- about to birth peace….
Dear Jesus- I can’t pretend to grasp the sacrifices you’ve made in coming to earth, being born into chaos to bring us peace.. but I am desperate to embrace it. Even here. In the middle of the chaos that my life feels like. In the middle of this barn…. I pray for anyone who reads- who feels like life is chaos and that peace isn’t even a possibility- that they would find your peace- in the chaos. In the barn. In the manger, and at the foot of the cross. I love you Lord and trust you with all my what if’s- even here- in Jesus name- amen
Repost from last year…..but still fitting… some struggles improve..(A year after my hubby’s diagnosis we are in an upswing… last PSA was undetectable. We now test eery 3 months….for now- cancer takes a back burner. but then…. new struggles develop. And we get through them. together.