Holy Chaos

Last month, our family spent a week at Disney World. We’ve been before, and it is a wonderful vacation for us. All five of us looked forward to different rides, foods and experiences. One of my favorite parts of a trip to Disney, or really to anywhere, is the planning. I love to look at maps, menus and lists. I schedule some things and imagine others. For me, planning a trip is part of the joy of taking a trip. Disney really expects you to plan, too. You can make restaurant reservations five months in advance and can select Fast Passes for rides two months in advance. They want you to meticulously plan every moment of your vacation.

My favorite memory from this recent trip, however, is one that was most definitely not planned.  We had gone to Animal Kingdom one evening to ride some rides that we had not gotten Fast Passes for and had been unable to ride a previous day.  It looked like it might rain, but Florida summers are known for little pop up showers that pass quickly. As we neared the end of the line for the Kali River Rapids, the wind picked up and we could tell a storm was blowing in. We figured we were about to get on a water ride anyway, so why put on our ponchos?  Getting wet was part of the plan! We got on our raft with another family, and, as the ride started down the “river,” the rain started. This wasn’t a gentle rain. It was a wind whipping, fat, heavy raindrops rain. On top of that, we were getting splashed and sprayed from all directions by the ride. All of us on the raft just looked at each other and laughed. The sheer joy and amazement on the faces of people I’ve never met and my own family’s faces have stuck with me since that moment.

After the ride, we were all still laughing at how incredibly wet we were. We were, as they say, “Soaked to the bone.” There was no point in taking shelter. How much wetter could we really get?  However, most people were huddling under overhangs and in doorways. We definitely got some strange looks as the five of us just kept on walking and laughing towards our next destination.  For me, there was a sense of unbridled joy and amusement.

This moment was spectacular and memorable. And, it was unplanned. We could have let the fact that we were soaked ruin the rest of our evening. We could have gotten mad and yelled at each other. Instead, we chose to embrace the chaos of the moment. No matter how much we plan, chaos will always break in eventually. Chaos is part of God’s design. Creation began in chaos. The Holy Spirit came in chaos at Pentecost. When we try to over-plan or over-order our lives, we do not leave room for the Spirit to show us the holy moments of chaos. When we embrace the chaos of a moment and set aside our preconceived ideas about what should be happening, we open ourselves to finding the Divine at work, not in spite of the chaos, but as part of it.

As we head into another school year and more planning and lists, I hope we are able to find the holy in the moments of chaos that break through and to remember that God is at work in chaos just as much, or maybe even more so, than in order.

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