Lin Weeks Wilder

Lin Weeks Wilder


Sanctify The Mess: Relearning Old Lessons

A huge pile of unwashed dishes in the kitchen sink and on the countertop. A lot of utensils and kitchen appliances before washing. The concept of daily cooking routine and complexity

Ever had a week that looked like this?

Several days during this past week seemed, virtually anyway, like a humongous pile of dirty dishes that kept replenishing themselves, independent of me. Meaning that my productive intentions for the day were cast aside and piling up. That there was very good reason for my lack of productivity did not help-the fact remains that I’m behind. Way behind.

By now-the middle of July- I should be writing like crazy, clear about the plot and direction of my newest book, Plausible Liars, but I am so far from that destination that I am returning to old lessons like “sanctify the mess!”

Over six years ago, I attended a day long retreat with about 25 others-it was our annual Benedictine Oblate day for reflection but the usual group leaders were unavailable.

The priest who organized the day did so from the perspective of a parish priest-not a Benedictine monk or contemplative but one with bills to pay and meals to prepare.

Years later, I find myself returning to the talks Fr. Nathan gave along with some pithy and practical information he provided.

Sanctify the mess!

His point was this: Since we have not chosen the life of a contemplative but the one of living in the world, sometimes all we can do is work at sanctifying the mess we are currently living in.

I thought about this a great deal this week-when none of my plans for my week came to fruition. One in which when I had the time, I lacked the energy, or will, to work on the new book.

We are all occasional or frequent victims to emotions which feel as if they will never get off our chest…

never permit a deep breath and certainly not a smile when they climb inside our gut and psyche and vacuum away every shred of energy.

It feels as if we will feel this terrible forever.

Remembering Fr Nathan’s words: sanctify the mess, I can have a lengthy conversation with myself and with God.

  • Take the time to analyze exactly why I feel this way and what I can do about it.
  • What I can change and what I cannot.
  •  To carefully examine each one of my options…weighing what the results would be for each one.
  • And return to some tricks I had forgotten: deadlines and mind games.

I think that is what he meant by sanctifying the mess.

One of the priest’s last comments was about gratitude- the antidote to depression…sanctification of our messes is impossible without gratitude. Always, we can find something to be thankful for…some days, it simply takes more effort.

“Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

One of the countless precious lessons our 4-footed furry friends can teach us. Just spend time watching him or her to learn the firm disposition of habitual perfections of will and ordered passion. 

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Lin Wilder

Lin Wilder has a doctorate in Public Health from the UT Houston with a background in cardiopulmonary physiology, medical ethics, and hospital administration. 

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