Bless the Mess
by Adam Kronberger / Head of School
I began my humble painting career on the bottom rung of the ladder...literally. As a young green college student, I was entrusted with the most simple and menial tasks on our painting projects. Scraping paint, carrying ladders, and cleaning brushes was the extent of my abilities. Perhaps my least favorite chore was cleaning the airless sprayer at the end of each day. While the rest of the crew was heading home for dinner, I was stuck with the messy laborious job of cleaning the sprayer pump and feet of hose that had funneled paint onto the house during the day.
Eventually, I transitioned from being a painting apprentice with low wages to a small businessman with reliable extra income. But as my startup resources were limited, my jobs were completed by brush and roller as I could not afford an airless sprayer. Oh had I changed my tune! Instead of complaining about the messy cleanup of an airless sprayer, I was complaining about the lack of productivity that such a machine would have provided. On those early jobs, I would have gladly taken responsibility for the daily cleaning of the airless sprayer if I could have only utilized its benefits.
In chapel this week, we considered the Proverb “Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest” (14:4). For those of you with pets or especially livestock, you understand that a degree of “mess” accompanies animals. But to say goodbye to the routine mess, you must also say goodbye to the joy or usefulness that the animal provides. The mess that is created is a minor inconvenience compared to the welcome presence of a friend.
During this season of quarantine, I assume that many of our homes have become much messier! With the kids home from school, the stable is no longer empty. Their presence has required more supervision, more support, more food, and more cleanup. But just as crops cannot be sowed and harvested without an ox, strong relationships cannot be built in isolation. And while relationships between teachers and students have taken a virtual context for a season, relationships among families have never been more available.
While some things will never be the same, other things will never change. At some point, your children will once again spend hundreds of hours a year out of your house and in the presence of others. While your stable may become a bit cleaner, you will miss the strength that this current situation provides to your family relationships. When I started my own painting business, I looked fondly on the past experience I had with the airless sprayer and longed for those days. May each of us not make the same mistake in our current circumstance. In spite of the minor messes, may we embrace, cherish, and celebrate any opportunities we have right now in our own stables for a large harvest of family discipleship.
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