The Mud & The Stars

The Mud & The Stars.

My mom had a favorite ditty she’d lay on us kids when we were grumbling about life. It went something like this:

Two men looked out of prison bars.

One saw mud.

The other saw stars.

 It was one of those pithy statements that June on Leave It To Beaver might say—one of those sayings you’ve heard your mom voice a hundred times. And every time she spoke it, you’d roll your eyes and mumble under your breath, “Oh brother,” because you knew she was trying to teach you something, but you were too busy or naïve to get her point.

And just after you got done rolling your eyes, mom would put her hands on her hips sighing, “Someday when I’m dead and gone, you’ll appreciate what I’m trying to tell you.”

My mom’s been gone now for over ten years. Just the other day I discovered she was right, those little ditty’s our mom’s offer us as kids do come back to haunt you, in a good way.

 I was sitting alone during my Quiet Time staring out the window. My mood matched the drab charcoal grey sky. I was fretting, absorbed in problems, covered in worry. Feeling discontented and disconnected.

In the midst of my grumbling my mom’s little ditty rose up in me. A light bulb popped on in my head. I was focused on the mud. I was looking at what I perceived was wrong with the world and myself.

But, what about the stars? I pondered. What about the good things in my life? A loving spouse and family, good health, well-adjusted children, a nice job, and caring friends.

Sure, we all have problems, I considered. But, the challenges we face are how we grow—how we gain new insight and wisdom as we struggle with and through life’s challenges.   The trouble and confusion we experience from time to time are the mud we grapple in, which eventually leads us toward wonder and clarity as we learn greater patience, gratitude, and unconditional love for others and ourselves along the way.

Those are the stars I realized—the new insights and wisdom that rise out of the mud as God sprinkles his stardust of inspiration and guidance along our life’s path.

Maybe mud is a necessary part of life. Jesus used mud to restore a blind man’s eyesight. In some cultures, builders use mud mixed with straw to form a mortar for laying brick walls.

Maybe we need those moments of muddiness to inspire us to grow, to stretch us, nudge us and help us reach for the stars of gratitude, hope, and unconditional love.

What’s the lens through which we view our life?

Do we see the world as a place filled with chaos? Turmoil? On a crash course?

Or do we view the world as a place filled with God’s presence, beauty, and guidance—an unfolding, evolving planet where the chaos and confusion catapults us toward discovering:

Life is a mutual exchange of blessing between God, others, and us.

How do we view ourselves?

Do we see ourselves as bad, or as victims, where everyone is out to harm us so we need to protect ourselves with anger, manipulation, and control?

Or do we see ourselves as good, the original blessing of God—filled with love, learning deeper wisdom and understanding as we grow through life?

Do we see the stars amidst the mud?

—Brian Plachta









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