Several weeks ago I was making my routine Sunday morning rounds during the Sunday School hour. It is one of my favorite parts of the day as I stick my head in classes, say “good morning,” grip and grin and maybe snag a pastry (any pastry will do) on the way out. Please do not worry about the last part, the part about the pastries, because I limit myself to only three or four; maybe five if it is homemade. Anyway, on this day I was hustling out of the preschool building in kind of a hurry because, as we all know, doughnuts are hard to find in a preschool. It somewhere between the lobby and the door when my beloved coffee cup – the one made by a gifted local potter – slipped from my hand and broke in three distinct pieces. Ugh. I carried the remains back to my office, searched for some glue, but in vain gave up and left the cup on an unsuspecting assistant’s desk (whom I thought might have glue).
Two days later my cup was back on my desk, mended and restored. It was almost as good as new, except for the mended cracks.
Some broken things can be mended. Some not. Last year we learned of the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. He was a broken man who just could not get mended. I am still sad for the loss of this life. Every day we are moving around and alongside broken things and broken people. Some things you see: a wheelchair, a cane, a cast, a band-aide – symbols of broken bodies. Some things, perhaps most things, you do not see, because they are buried deep beneath the effortful facades and barriers that come by way of suppression and shame. Only the bearers of such brokenness see, but even then it can be too confusing, too overwhelming, to really see, let alone understand.
Mystics sometimes call this the dark night of the soul, but when one is broken on the inside or the outside it is often not just a night, but a season and maybe even a life clouded and dimmed by chaos. Why is it that some whose things are not observably broken smash upon the brittle lives of others? Or perhaps even more indicting, ignore and neglect by a failure of love and compassion? Why do some condescend with quick fixes, simplistic answers, and pithy responses adorned with pious clichés?
The community of believers is also a communion of brokenness. As broken bread is held up as a sacrament of Christ’s own brokenness, we too are drawn into this communion with our scarred bodies and brittle minds and failing spirits.
I am so grateful for the one who took my little coffee cup and mended it just for me. I am grateful too for the community of believers that gathers together with our nicks, scars, chips, and cracks to find wholeness in togetherness. And I am grateful for the One who entered our brokenness and became broken that we all may be made eternally whole.
Blessed to share with you in this part of the journey,
“[We] need to hear that still small voice saying, ‘I love you whether you are important or not, whether you are a failure or not, whether you have money or not, whether you are handsome or not.” (Henri Nouwen, The Road to Daybreak, p. 194)