Cleanliness is next to… impossible,’ said the little boy, struggling to remember the maxim. We learn to live with mess, because life is mostly messy, but we need to do so as thoughtfully as we can, with hope and with good grace. The more tidy-minded we are, the more trouble we will have with our messy lives, messy feelings, messy organisation…. The Church is messy: not in its ideal, but in actual experience. But we are not alone; we can hear voices from every century – some from worlds even more despoiled than ours. That is the benefit of inheriting an ancient Christian tradition. If others in the past endured worse, then we can take courage in our own time of bewilderment.
In his new book, A Holy Mess, Donagh O’Shea, director of the Dominican Retreat Centre, Tallaght tries to gather for the modern reader some of the hard-earned wisdom of Christian writers, and others, who knew tragedy and chaos in their own time, and who can therefore credibly persuade us to go on.
Donagh O’Shea is director of the Dominican Retreat and Conference Centre, Tallaght He taught philosophy and logic for a number of years in Ireland and England, and the history of spirituality in various colleges in Rome. He is also a trained potter. For many years he has been giving retreats and lectures all over the world. His other books include the recent publication A Hundred Roads to Here, in addition to Go Down to the Potter’s House, Take Nothing for the Journey, and Faith Questions: Searching for Meaning and Hope.