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Mr Messy

Posted by Lucy Moore on 13 Feb 2009

I was gutted to read the Mr Men book Mr Messy (by Roger Hargreaves and originally published in 1972), who should be, after all, a hero of Messy Church. But no! This book tells a tragic story. Mr Messy (who resembles a glorious pink tangle of wool) is leading his messy, dangerous, free-range life when he comes across the repulsive, nay sinister, pair Mr Neat and Mr Tidy in their black and white suits and bowler hats.

The loathsome duo forcibly abduct Mr Messy in their van and proceed to inflict tidiness on his house and garden, with a very telling dialogue as they gloat over what they've done.

'"There we are," said Mr Tidy. "All finished," said Mr Neat. "Tidy and neat," said Mr Tidy. "Neat and tidy," said Mr Neat. Mr Messy just didn't know what to say.'

But worse is to come: they proceed to drag Mr Messy to a bath, wash, brush and comb him until he 'didn't look like Mr Messy at all' - he is left as a dull featureless blob. And listen to the result: '"I'm going to have to change my name!" said Mr Messy. And he chuckled.'

These Auditors (see Terry Pratchett) have robbed Mr Messy first of his freedom, then of his voice, then of his very identity, making it seem (oh, diabolical cunning) like an improvement so that he actually conspires with them in the eradication of his personality!

There is nothing to add. The adventure is over. The story is at an end. All finished.

Fellow messy people, let us stand firm against the well-meaning do-goodery of any who would tidy us up! Let us rejoice in our creativity, in our freedom to roam the woods and spill cornflakes on the floor. Let us never admit Mr Neat and Mr Tidy into our concept of God or our expression of faith. Let us shut their cosy, risk-free domesticity out of our spirituality. Let us not conform to the inflexible pattern of their world but be transformed in the untameableness of the Spirit. Let us, like the unreformed Mr Messy, be 'messy by name, messy by nature'.

Because although for poor Mr Messy 'that really is the end of the story', the stories of those whose life God is touching through Messy Church are opening up into more individuality, creativity, unpredictability and risk than they would ever know through Messrs Neat and Tidy.