As I write this, a dog from somewhere in the neighborhood barks incessantly. Daisy nudges my arm, flitting from my chair to window, begging me to let her outside so she may bark, too.
Across from me, pages of Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin lay in shreds, a tattered memento of Daisy’s protest of my unwillingness to play at 6:30 on a Saturday morning.
Truthfully, I should have cleaned up the mess hours ago.
And, any other day, I would have.
But, several hours later, it still sits. Little clusters of page sprinkled on the couch, the book’s title page sitting half-ripped and cockeyed on my hardwood floors. The original tome rests a few inches from its entrails, corner-less, bite marks telling a story.
I want to take a photo of it to capture the humor, the frustration. When I do, evening sun drops in from the window, shining spotlight on the place where it lays.
I don’t know why I left it there, this mess. Sitting all day. I don’t know why I haven’t just swept it up and discarded it.
I stepped out to meet with a friend and on the way there, I chastised myself for leaving the remnants of the book behind. I called myself lazy and irresponsible for not cleaning it up before I left.
But, back now, sitting down, looking at it, I think there may be a reason I never felt inclined to clean it up.
I’ve been sitting reflectively this evening, mulling over recent conversations I’ve had with loved ones, brewing over raw emotions and memories and thoughts and revelations. Struggles and indecisions.
Thinking of it all, I mutter under my breath, “I’m such a mess.”
I raise my eyes.
There it is.
Go Tell it on the Mountain.
Frayed as it is, tattered and strewn and and bitten,
Its essence remains.
And at 7:00am, when I stumbled upon it bleary eyed and angry, catching my dog lying lazily across the couch as she nibbled on the words of James Baldwin, I knew instantly what it was.
It did not take sunlight or a clear head or inspection for me to know what book it was that lay scattered across the hardwood.
Ruined as it was, the truth of its identity remained.
Because it is beloved to me.
The tint of its cover, indents of canine teeth puckering through, still is recognizable.
The spine of it, missing its corners, still declares its weight.
And the title page, ripped nearly in two, still bares its brand.
Okay, so maybe I am over-spiritualizing.
If that is even a thing that can be done.
Maybe this isn’t a moment of profound epiphany as much as it is simply a comforting one.
And I daresay even a humorous one.
Yes, I feel like a mess today. I feel raw, cracked open, splayed. I feel like I’ve been bitten into, ripped at the edges. I feel like remnants swirling.
But even here, in this place of emotional intensity,
Am I any less than who I am?
After all, am I not beloved?
I will never experience a day in my life, messy ones and all, where I am not who God has made me to be.
Yes, I may protest just as much as Daisy protested this morning. I may act in a way that does not serve me or the purpose for which I am created. I may act in a way that is incongruent with my design.
But the design does not falter.
It is infallible.
And so is my belovedness.
So I finish this writing, comforted and at peace. Daisy is let out to play and add her bark echoing in the neighborhood, and James Baldwin gets to sit a little longer in its beloved mess.
As do I.