Friday, June 8, 2012


I spent the last two days sitting in a courtroom, something I’ve never done before.  Being there, observing the proceedings and all the people involved in or (like me) observing them gave me a lot to think about.  I have a feeling more than one post will come just from sitting in that room for that brief time. 

One thing the courtroom got me thinking about is brokenness.  OK, this is actually a topic that crosses my mind often.  One of the big questions I've always had about brokenness is why some broken people go through the world, constantly working to repair it while others seem to crash through the world, either deliberately or accidentally wreaking havoc with every stride.  Now let me say that when I refer to broken people, I'm referring to all of us, because there's not one of us (except maybe the very sweet and very young babies who haven't lived in the world long enough to be damaged by it) who isn't at least a little bit broken.  

Over the last few days a distinction has been forming in my mind, one that may help to answer my question.  I'm going to offer it to you, with no real idea as to its validity.  It's a theory.  I'd love to know your thoughts on the matter. 

I think broken people can fall into a couple categories. First, there are those who are merely fractured, meaning that all the pieces are still connected and still mostly in place.  Then there are those who are so broken that pieces are have fallen away, perhaps within range of being put back into place, perhaps so damaged as to be irreparable, leaving a gaping hole in the whole.  Certainly, our own brokenness varies at different times in our lives.  The superficial cracks are easy to recover from.  The deep gaping holes take much longer to repair, especially if the state of the missing pieces is also dire.  Maybe there is no way to fill the holes, but I hope there is.  I don't think God would leave us without the possibility of wholeness.  Maybe we just need to be creative (creating) in our work.  An image of a Gaudi mosaic comes to mind.  Who knew broken pieces could be formed into something so beautiful? Maybe we're meant to fill the holes with mosaics...

As I think and type, I think there is another distinction to be made within our brokenness: those who know that brokenness can be mended and those who don't.  Those who know that healing can happen understand that though there will be visible signs of past calamities, adversity can be overcome.  Then there are those who don't believe that repair is possible.  They may have a gaping hole and feel no hope of filling it, no hope of getting closer to wholeness, no hope for that mosaic to be made.  

I wonder if the second distinction is more important.  I wonder if those who know that healing is possible, that it is probable, that it is, in fact, impossible to elude unless we actively work to avoid it, are those who will work to heal themselves and, in doing so, to heal the world. Each personal mend is also a mend for the world.  Our world can only be whole when all people and places are mended.  

I have thought a lot about my friend in the courtroom who handled a horrible situation with incredible grace and hope, much more than I imagine myself having if I were ever in a similar situation.  Through it all, he believed that he would make it through.  He never lashed out at anyone who hurt him.  In fact, he hoped and continues to hope for their healing, too.  He has been working towards wholeness. 

I also think of a young man I know who has been in prison now for a couple of years.  He committed some horrible acts, acts that most certainly left gaping holes in those he harmed.  I know only parts of his story leading up to what he did, but knowing what I know, I've asked myself many times if his "reason" for damaging others has to do with being so broken himself.  I wonder if he had no hope of healing himself, or if he thought that breaking others would somehow make his own pain diminish.  I don't know.  Please know that I am not trying to excuse anything he did.  I am not; I am simply trying to understand it.  I don't know how he will get closer to wholeness. 

As I think about other broken places in our world, it seems clear that breaking others to somehow "fix" an area of brokenness is modus operandi.  An eye for an eye? It doesn't make sense to me.  Maybe I just haven't (thankfully) suffered enough gaping holes to get it.  Maybe I am too committed to healing to ever be at that point.  I hope so.  

I feel like I am leaving a lot still unsaid, but I am going to leave these thoughts half-formed. Perhaps it can be fodder for future thought and growth... 

In the meantime, I wish peace and healing to you in whatever state of brokenness you may be.    


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