The Inner Voice of Who Knows What

the pilgrimage: Henri Nouwen and my own topsy-turvy little heart

Day 27: Dusty.

Henri, Stay United with the Larger Body:

Your own growth cannot take place without growth in others. You are part of a body. When you change, the whole body changes. It is very important for you to remain deeply connected with the larger community to which you belong.

It is also important that those who belong to the body of which you are part keep faith in your journey. You still have a way to go, and there will be times when your friends are puzzled or even disillusioned by what is happening to you. At certain moments things may seem more difficult for you than before; they may look worse than when you began. You still have to make the great passage, and that might not happen without a lot of new distress and fear. Through all of this, it is important for you to stay united with the larger body and know that your journey is made not just for yourself but for all who belong to the body.

Think about Jesus. He made his journey and asked his disciples to follow him even where they would rather not go. The journey you are choosing is Jesus’ journey, and whether or not you are fully aware of it, you are also asking your brothers and sisters to follow you.  Somewhere you already know that what you are living now will not leave the other members of the community untouched. Your choices also call your friends to make new choices.


I feel sometimes, at least lately, that I am like Pigpen – that adorable dusty little Peanuts guy who must be the most romanticized version of poor hygiene I’ve ever seen. I imagine sometimes that I enter a room with this dust cloud surrounding me for all to see. This little flurry of “issues” orbits around me, the dust of my insecurities and confusions rising up from the floor to become my myriad little satellites. They swirl around me and follow their master, to make it known to the world that not all is well, all is perfect with Jessica Mast.

I feel sometimes that those who love me, those who are close to me, are quietly and kindly suppressing their need to cough, wave away my mess, swat away my flies, take a leaf-blower to me to get rid of the obvious, dusty intrusion.

Here’s the problem, though – seems like the more I talk with folks, the more I find that not all is perfect with any human person with a heart and a body and a brain. So, seems like not all is perfect with anybody.

Then why doesn’t everybody have this little dust cloud accompanying them?
What makes my dirt special?
Why do I feel mine is so pronounced?
Is it?

Or is the beauty that I am starting to recognize this dirt flurry I’ve ignored for so long?… is the beauty that every person in this world has their own flurry, but we choose to love one another despite it?… is the beauty that I find myself in a community that loves me fiercely and appreciates me, dust and all?… is the beauty that my journey has led me to a place of embracing these dirty satellites – instead of striving to hide them, pretend they don’t exist, and leave myself no need for grace?

This dust stirred up around me is simply human existence.
The journey I am choosing means I get the opportunity to face the dust, breathe it in deeply, choke and cough a bit, but know that it is part of me. I am choosing a journey that lets me name the dust particles, identify the mess, recognize the imperfections in myself and just let them be.

My Pigpen cloud is not a burden to my community.
The journey to start naming the Pigpen cloud is an enrichment to my community.
They have told me time and time again that this is so, but I am starting to believe it.

There is no need to hide the dust anymore… but celebrate the fact that we are loved, and love one another, right along with it.





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One thought on “Day 27: Dusty.

  1. Yes, we all have our Pigpen clouds. Jesus helps us to love each other, dirt and all. In fact, when we comfort and support each other, it washes some of the dirt away and we have shining faces again!

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