Tuesday — Every once in a while (and I’m not always sure what triggers it), I give in to my broken places. Meaning I assume that the label of “broken” is the only truth about who I am. And I live small.
It’s no surprise that I would try hard never to show those places. What would people think? It is also no surprise that when life feels heavy or uncertain, it is easy to be derailed, and afraid. And that’s when we need stories; to remind us that it’s precisely in the broken places where we touch, embrace and give thanks for the soft and life-giving places of our heart.
So. Let us tell stories to muster the means to carry on, to say No to a self that has been made to feel small.
Let us say yes to hope.
Let us say yes to the permission to return to our self—no longer small—and to the voice of grace.
Let us tell these stories because our world needs and seeks the miracle of grace.
You Were A Child Once, Too.
That’s what Mister Rogers said, that’s what he wrote down, once upon a time, for the doctors. The doctors were ophthalmologists. An ophthalmologist is a doctor who takes care of the eyes. Sometimes, ophthalmologists have to take care of the eyes of children, and some children get very scared, because children know that their world disappears when their eyes close, and they can be afraid that the ophthalmologists will make their eyes close forever.
The ophthalmologists did not want to scare children, so they asked Mister Rogers for help, and Mister Rogers agreed to write a chapter for a book the ophthalmologists were putting together—a chapter about what other ophthalmologists could do to calm the children who came to their offices.
Because Mister Rogers is such a busy man, however, he could not write the chapter himself, and he asked a woman who worked for him to write it instead. She worked very hard at writing the chapter, until one day she showed what she had written to Mister Rogers, who read it and crossed it all out and wrote a sentence addressed directly to the doctors who would be reading it: “You were a child once, too.”
And that’s how the chapter began.
(Tom Junod, Esquire article, “Can you say Hero”)
And in that child, is sufficiency.
You see, this is where we need to affirm Mr. Roger’s paradigm shift… When we focus on what we are not or who we need to become (scarcity), we are unable to access what we have and who we are (sufficiency).
And when I see only scarcity, I miss the fact that every single one of us has been gifted with creativity, abundance, heart, love, passion, gentleness, helpfulness, caring, kindness, tenderness, restoration and a shoulder to lean on. This is the paradigm of internal sufficiency.
Quote for your day…
We have often heard that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is usually taken to mean that the sense of beauty is utterly subjective; there is no accounting for taste because each person’s taste is different. The statement has another, more subtle meaning: if our style of looking becomes beautiful, then beauty will become visible and shine forth for us. We will be surprised to discover beauty in unexpected places where the ungraceful eye would never linger. The graced eye can glimpse beauty anywhere, for beauty does not reserve itself for special elite moments or instances; it does not wait for perfection but is present already secretly in everything. When we beautify our gaze, the grace of hidden beauty becomes our joy and our sanctuary.
John O’Donohue (Beauty: The Invisible Embrace)
Wednesday — It is in our broken places where we touch, embrace and give thanks for the soft and life-giving places of our heart. Yes, even in brokenness, there is sufficiency—heart, love, passion, gentleness, helpfulness, caring, kindness, tenderness, restoration and a shoulder to lean on.
This voice of grace reminds us that our value (and yes, our well-being) is not predicated on being fixed, or unbroken, or cured. A necessary paradigm shift, because healing is different than being cured. Healing is about the journey of embracing the sacrament of the present moment (the journey and not the destination), to be here now, even in and with our brokenness.
Which brings us to another story about Mr. Rogers from Tom Junod’s Esquire article, “Can you say Hero.”
The next afternoon, I went to his office in Pittsburgh. He was sitting on a couch, under a framed rendering of the Greek word for grace and a biblical phrase written in Hebrew that means “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine.” A woman was with him, sitting in a big chair. Her name was Deb. She was very pretty. She had a long face and a dark blush to her skin. She had curls in her hair and stars at the centers of her eyes. She was a minister at Fred Rogers’s church. She spent much of her time tending to the sick and the dying. Fred Rogers loved her very much, and so, out of nowhere, he smiled and put his hand over hers.
“Will you be with me when I die?” he asked her, and when she said yes, he said, “Oh, thank you, my dear.”
Then, with his hand still over hers and his eyes looking straight into hers, he said, “Deb, do you know what a great prayer you are? Do you know that about yourself? Your prayers are just wonderful.”
Then he looked at me. I was sitting in a small chair by the door, and he said, “Tom, would you close the door, please?”
I closed the door and sat back down. “Thanks, my dear,” he said to me, then turned back to Deb. “Now, Deb, I’d like to ask you a favor,” he said. “Would you lead us? Would you lead us in prayer?”
Deb stiffened for a second, and she let out a breath, and her color got deeper. “Oh, I don’t know, Fred,” she said. “I don’t know if I want to put on a performance…”
Fred never stopped looking at her or let go of her hand. “It’s not a performance. It’s just a meeting of friends,” he said.
He moved his hand from her wrist to her palm and extended his other hand to me. I took it and then put my hand around her free hand. His hand was warm, hers was cool, and we bowed our heads, and closed our eyes, and I heard Deb’s voice calling out for the grace of God.
(Thank you Tom Junod.)
We had a spiteful storm here the past two days, very high winds and heavy rain and flooding. Today it is past, sun out between the clouds, and time for cleanup… and a big smile as a group of geese gather not far from my house. I spend some time hanging out… “good to see you,” I tell them.
Thursday — We run from brokenness (or hide it, or feel shamed by it) because of an internalized script that says the goal is being fixed, or cured, or saved. And life is now about measuring up.
One of my favorite stories is about a couple who anticipated attending the opening of a new museum exhibit.
At the last moment, their childcare plans fell through. They were left with the only option of taking their young daughter, seven years old, with them. They expected that the event would be tedious for the girl, but hoped she would not be a drain on their evening.
The exhibit was large and varied. One room of watercolor paintings, another of pen and ink sketches. In another great bronze sculpting. In another, modern art in oil. And in another, small blown glass figurines. Exquisite. Gossamer.
The little girl spent the evening mesmerized.
On the way home, the parents said to their daughter, “We’re sorry we took you to such a long adult event. But we’re proud of the way you behaved. And we want to thank you. Did you enjoy any of the evening?”
The girl paused, and then told them, “Oh yes… all night, I wanted to touch the fragile things.”
The little ones understand.
Embracing my hidden wholeness…
I am free to let my life heal, not by denying the pain, but by acknowledging it, and in fact, by keeping my heart open.
I am free to see that the mending does not eliminate the cracks (and brokenness), but allows me to embrace them.
Parker Palmer’s affirmation that “The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is.”
It is in our broken places where we touch, embrace and give thanks for the soft and life-giving places of our heart. Yes, even in brokenness, there is sufficiency—heart, love, passion, gentleness, helpfulness, caring, kindness, tenderness, restoration and a shoulder to lean on.
Quote for your day… I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou
Friday — This voice of grace reminds us that our value (and yes, our well-being) is not predicated on being fixed, or unbroken, or cured. A necessary paradigm shift, because healing is different than being cured. Healing is about the journey of embracing the sacrament of the present moment (the journey and not the destination), to be here now, even in and with our brokenness.
This past year I’ve written about kintsugi. The 400+ year old Japanese art of kintsugi (golden repair) or kintsukuroi (golden joinery) is a pottery repair method that honors the artifact’s unique history by emphasizing, not hiding, the break.
“According to art historians, kintsugi came about accidentally (well, it does fit). When the 15th-century shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite tea bowl, he sent it to China for repairs and was disappointed that it came back stapled together. The metal pins were unsightly, so local craftsmen came up with a solution — they filled the crack with a golden lacquer, making the bowl more unique and valuable. This repair elevated the fallen bowl back to its place as shogun’s favorite and prompted a whole new art form.
An art form born from mottainai — the feeling of regret when something is wasted — and ‘mushin,’ the need to accept change: the cracks are seamed with lacquer resin and powdered gold, silver, or platinum, and often reference natural forms like waterfalls, rivers, or landscapes. This method transforms the artifact into something new, making it more rare, beautiful, and storied than the original…
When we expect everything and everyone to be perfect, including ourselves, we not only discount much of what is beautiful, but we create a cruel world where resources are wasted, people’s positive qualities are overlooked in favor of their flaws, and our standards become impossibly limiting, restrictive, and unhealthy.
The kintsugi approach instead makes the most of what already is, highlights the beauty of what we do have, flaws and all, rather than leaving us eternally grasping for more, different, other, better.” (Thank you Andrea Mantovani)
Using gold (or other precious metal) mixed with epoxy to repair the broken piece. Okay, this really does my heart good; the gold now emphasizes, rather than hides, the breakage.
Yes, the gold honors the beauty of imperfection, and that beauty spills.
There is power in our redemptive story.
It’s Marcel Proust’s reminder, “My destination is no longer a place, rather a new way of seeing.” So, my value is not about where I should arrive (needing to pretend that the cracks do not exist or will be covered up), but honoring and living into the true value deep down.
Yes to the paradigm shift: Henri Nouwen’s guidance that we “embrace” our brokenness. The “precious scars” honoring my life. No surprise that I hear Leonard Cohen, “there is a crack in everything and that is how the light gets in.”
Now, at home in my own skin; that “safe space to regain my bearings, reclaim my soul, heal my wounds, and return to the world as a wounded healer,” Parker Palmer writes. “It’s not merely about finding shelter from the storm—it’s about spiritual survival and the capacity to carry on.”
Quote for your day… Life is amazing. And then it’s awful. And then it’s amazing again. And in between the amazing and awful it’s ordinary and mundane and routine. Breathe in the amazing, hold on through the awful, and relax and exhale during the ordinary. That’s just living heartbreaking, soul-healing, amazing, awful, ordinary life. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful. L.R. Knost
Here’s our Prayer Blessing…
A Reworking of Psalm 23
The Lord is my Pace-setter, I shall not rush; He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals. He provides me with images of stillness, which restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency
through calmness of mind,
and His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things
to accomplish each day,
I will not fret, for His presence is here;
His timelessness, His all importance,
will keep me in balance.
He prepares refreshment and renewal
in the midst of my activity
by anointing my mind
with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness
shall be the fruits of my hours;
for I shall walk, in the pace of my Lord
and dwell in His house forever.
Toki Miyashina, Japanese Poet
Photo to make you smile…”Hi Terry, I took this picture a few years ago. I grew up on the East Coast in Canada and in the winter every neighbourhood had a public outdoor ice rink to go to. As a child, I spent many hours out in the bitter cold skating until the sun went down. I now live on the west coast and it’s not often we get the kind of freezing cold weather for outdoor skating. This particular year we had a cold front and this picture was taken of a farmer’s field after my boys and I had spent the entire afternoon playing ice hockey with many people we never met before. It was a brilliant day and I was happy I could share a piece of my childhood with my boys. Thank you for “Sabbath Moment” – always does my heart good,” Johanne Fraser… Thank you Johanne… I’m very grateful for your photos, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org