Advent 2021


Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent: Joy in the Mess

MM and Blue

“It’s a mess!!” Shards of ceramic littering the carpet, pasta noodles splattered across the floor, sauce in both of our hair—yeah, I think it’s safe to say it’s a mess. The entire table goes silent, a cloud of tension looming overhead. Before anyone can say a word, though, Blue, the boy I nanny, whose dinner is everywhere but in his mouth, cuts the silence with a song: “Clean up, clean up!” The rest of the table, still silent. “Margaret’s turn!!”

So I join him, “Everybody, everywhere!” and we keep singing as we pick up the noodles from our lap. 

That day, Blue changed my perspective. A mess that definitely could have resulted in tears, harsh words and a ruined birthday dinner instead resulted in a generous serving of smiles and a five-year-old singing his heart out while receiving help picking up the pieces of his mess. 

In today’s Gospel, we hear the iconic story of the Visitation, when Mary goes (eighty miles on foot!) to see her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant. Elizabeth explains to Mary the beautiful moment that occurred when Mary arrived: “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

What does it mean to leap for joy in the presence of our Lord? More specifically, how can we leap for joy amid the “messes” in our lives? What about the times when we are the very thing that needs a gentle cleaning up?

Sometimes we lose God when things get messy. It can be a lot easier to rejoice in God when things are going our way than when everything seems to be falling apart. When we are knee-deep in an ocean of chaos, God is embracing us and holding us. God’s not waiting for us to clean ourselves up before coming close; in fact, God was in the mess before we even were. No matter when we choose to rejoice in God, God is always rejoicing in us. God loves us exactly as we are, hot mess and all. 

No, maybe we can’t always rejoice in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But, especially in moments of desolation, frustration and fear, we can rejoice in knowing that our God is a God of kept promises. A God of unconditional love. A God of infinite possibilities. We can rejoice in knowing that our God will never leave us nor forsake us.


Note on the photo: The photo above was taken roughly forty minutes after the pasta explosion. If you zoom in really far, I bet you could find remnants of the sauce in our hair. But that’s not what immediately catches your eye—what stands out is the joy that comes so naturally to Blue, the joy that has the power to penetrate darkness and transform the nature of any situation.

Mary Margaret Schroeder '24

Mary Margaret is an undergraduate in Berkeley College.