So few articles and books I read tell me about brokenness. The core message is usually one of an impenetrable wholeness, a message that has got it all together. If there are any questions left to be answered, they live on the outskirts of a person’s life and teaching, never at the core.
I have been worn away at the edges by suffering. Some are smoothed by the relentless erosion of it, others are cut down to sharp bone by its blasting desert wind, and then bleached in the bright sunlight. My belief system has thus become a mixture of shapes and textures, more like a Dali than a Michelangelo. There is confusion and doubt, faith and certainty. There is a maelstrom of wondering. There are endless questions caught up in the tides of loving this unfathomable, incredibly real God. He does not mind any of them. Nor can any creeping jealousy, vicious thought or fleeting vileness sully or trouble him. These things are also some of my crumbs, ones I try to brush away whilst praying, with limited success. Because I sense his grace, I feel no shame. I only keep coming back.
But the heart of me also lies in pieces. I want to say today that I am completely broken, in case you think you might be too. Our teachers tell us we need to be glued back together, into some kind of kintsugi crackpot. That God can fix us up into something of our old shape, marked by the scars formed by his golden mercy flowing through us. There’s truth in that. But don’t imagine for one moment that fragility and weakness wasn’t always headed for the hard, cold floor.
Jars of clay, like loaves of bread, were made to be broken wide open, and the pieces given out. Following Christ means letting his scarred wholeness find its way into our splintered mosaic; his Word into our silence; his strength into our weakness. Sometimes all that is left of us, of you and me, is dust. He can breathe life back into it, or he can mix it with spittle and reform the clay of us. But sometimes those pieces are left to fly.
He knows what it is like to be torn to shreds and give himself out in small motes over and over again. He comes for the floundering, the lost, the grains of salt and yeast, who are almost nothing and of no use without him. He comes for you and me. Not to magic us into colossi, not to make sure we know everything and can pronounce it with deep, sonorous certainty; but to hold the misshapen bits of us in his carpenter’s hands, his potter’s hands, his father’s hands, and love them. Soaking in those quiet, relentless, non-judgemental, nail scorched palms, may we all become one broken body.