Kindness Is Messy: So Is Spaghetti, But I Still Recommend It

I gathered my retreat makers together last weekend in a cabin in the high desert of Oregon with snow piled high outside, and we worked on how we might gather humans in 2020 and beyond for rest and respite from our weary world — and how we might convey the message we’re all worthy of infinite love exactly as we already are. We talked about ways to hone our craft. We talked about ways to be authentic, supportive community. And we ate as much as possible at little, local restaurants, braving the icy sidewalks in search of sticky Thai chicken wings and Cuban pulled pork served on fried plantains. 

I was rushing as fast as the ice would allow to get to the Next Warm Spot on Saturday when I passed a sign in a shop window and went back, even though my fingers were frozen, to snap a quick pic and put it on Instagram.

“Spread Kindness Like It’s Confetti,” it said, and it seemed apropos of our weekend efforts. Spread kindness. All the time. All the ways. All the wheres. To all the people. And Cute + True = Insta Worthy, so I posted. But, like, three seconds later, my college kid, who’s on top of All Things Insta, texted me.

“Not everyone likes confetti.. or maybe it’s situational confetti. So situational kindness? Story time… It was senior night at my school and there was a party and we threw confetti at our friend who was a senior, inside the house. The owners of the house did not like the confetti. Moral of the story, some people don’t like confetti so how do I know who wants my confetti and who doesn’t?”

Some people don’t like confetti so how do I know who wants my confetti and who doesn’t?

Excellent question, baby girl. Excellent question ‘cause we’ve all tried to throw our kindness out there only to be hollered at for making a mess, yes? See also, 1. challenging the Church to be fully inclusive of folks who are vulnerable, 2. holding up traffic to let people cross the street, 3. fighting for social justice, 4. pointing out corruption, 5. and myriad other Acts of Tenderness, Love, and Concern. I tell you, you try to scatter kindness like confetti — especially kindness toward folks who can’t give you money or power or reciprocity — and you WILL piss other people off. It’s as inevitable as the sunrise. As in, it won’t stop until the sun burns out and the Earth grows cold. 

BUT YOU CANNOT LET THAT SWAY YOU, darling. 

You cannot let the kindness nay-sayers win. 

People don’t always love kindness.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

But we can’t let the kindness-shamers keep us from offering it. Right? I mean, how sad would that be?

“Doesn’t matter! Smother them with kindness confetti whether they like it or not. Some people will complain. Some people are mean and joyless. Whatever. Let them be. But don’t let them influence whether you sprinkle it. Joy-suckers don’t deserve that much power.”

Kindness can be messy, friends. So is confetti. So is spaghetti. So are relationships. And living deliberately. And loving well. So are Cuban pulled pork sandwiches served on fried plantains. But I still recommend them.

Yes, I do.

I recommend them all. 

In all their messiness. In all their gooey-ness. In all their dripping and hard-to-clean-up-ness. In all the spaghetti sauce dried at the corners of our mouths. And all the tiny pieces of paper stuck in the carpet after we toss them in celebration. 

Because I know a secret.

The messes can be hard to navigate, for sure. And distracting. And disheartening if we pay them a lot of attention. We will naturally try to focus on the reprimands we receive for making them because we’re human, and we’ll tear ourselves down if we’re not vigilant. We’ll look at the sauce we dripped on our boobs. We’ll listen too closely and be hurt too greatly by the voices of our critics. But if we can keep our heads — if we can rise above the fray — we can remember a Very Important Truth: 

There is magic in the mess, and the mess is a tiny price to pay to conjure it.

There is magic in the mess, and I know no truth greater than that, because magic in the mess is the same to me as watching Love in disguise. Love on the move. Love telling us that dripping sauce and greasy fingers are part of a wild and worthy life. Love telling us to look closer. To search deeper. To embrace the grit and the grime because therein lies grace. 

There is magic in kindness, even though it’s messy. Maybe because it is. Magic in loving our neighbors and seeing Divine Love in each and every one. Magic in that perfect bite of pasta and just the right chew of plantain carmelized in oil. Magic in a rain of confetti that, yes, I’ll be finding in the carpet for years to come. 

There is magic in the mess, and the mess is a tiny price to pay to conjure it.

Be on the lookout, friends. 

Kindness is messy. And I highly recommend it.

With love (and waving, waving),

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
6 comments
  1. Quite intersting

  2. I think part of the magic of the mess is that it sticks to us (the magic) as well, and that can do all kinds of good when we need a little pick me up!

  3. And I will add that God is in the middle of our messes, no matter what kind of mess it is. He is there to cheer us on in our kindness messes, our joyful messes, and there in the middle of our stressful, nasty real-life messes.

  4. “Smile and wave, boys… smile and wave.”
    Or, in the case of kindness confetti: Smile and vacuum. Because vacuuming is also a kindness, even though it is LOUD.
    And I REALLY, REALLY want to go on one of your retreats! Can I/we make this a reality in 2020? Pretty please?

  5. I could not love this whole thing more!!

    It reminds me of a story my parents tell of their wedding day in the 60s, when computers created tiny puched out paper circles, like confetti…a professor dumped a bunch of those things inside their car as they left the church. My folks say they sold that car with them still stuck in the carpet and upholstery.

    In light of this story – how cool is that?? The messy kindness we spread like confetti not only sticks to those we share it with, but gets passed on <3

  6. “There’s magic in the mess…” It’s “love in disguise.” Hoo ya! Say it sister! Messy house, messy kids, messy life…wouldn’t have it any other way….OK if the house was clean and there rest was mess that would be ok too!

    I just found your site and I like the love grounded in real life that comes thru.

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