January 15, 2021

Guest Column / Richard Etienne

Make order out of chaos, bring a sense of wholeness to your life

Richard EtienneHave you ever been in a situation that was so messy that you weren’t sure where to begin? Think of that pesky closet, room or shed in your world that seems to “catch all” your miscellaneous objects? Our lives are that way sometimes—so scattered with little or no sense of wholeness.

I am very aware of one dramatic example of being so overwhelmed in the aftermath of a tornado in November 2005 which hit our home. A large oak tree near our home split during the storm, and its top laid across our roof, poking holes in the shingles. The yard was strewn with leaves and limbs as well as debris from other houses. But we were blessed because the basic structure of our home was intact, and we had many individuals who came to help us tarp our roof before sundown on that same day.

Physical chaos may be easier remedied than the interior chaos that a person feels when life itself becomes too messy—when it has become time to sort through and prioritize the overall direction and specific activities that should be addressed next.

When we study the story of creation in Genesis, we see that God found himself in a similar situation. One passage says that “the earth was a formless wasteland and darkness covered the abyss” (Gn 1:2). “Then God said, ‘Let there be light, and there was light’ ” (Gn 1:3).

And then, one by one, God continued to create day and night, the sky and the dry land out of the primordial chaos in which he originally found it.

Where can a person go to begin a similar process of moving from a sense of “scattered” chaos toward “wholeness”?

For me, it starts with finding more quiet time to allow some of the light in my life to begin to separate from the darkness around me—to allow the metaphoric land to begin to separate from the chaos of the water—to allow for a few minutes of centering and personal prayer.

In the Gospel of Matthew we hear, “But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt 6:6).

How about you? Do you need a little time to bring more order out of the chaos in your life? When would be a good time to start this discernment process to reorder your priorities? Aren’t we supposed to play a role in God’s creation? What is God calling you to today?

(Richard Etienne is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Newburgh, Ind., in the Evansville Diocese.)

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