I sit, looking out the window at the fountain. It’s forever spring in Guatemala, and the lush green and brilliant pink are reminders of the season’s beauty and fury. As a child growing up in Oklahoma, spring was a peculiar dance of delight and destruction. Storms that shattered peaceful afternoons were reminders of how delicate even the strongest of lives could be, and the stories that were written in the rubble revealed mystery and purpose and the grit of grace and hope.
I’ve been here for two weeks in a place that’s become a second home to me. I’ve watched passionate college film students dream about the stories they might share with a waiting world, listened to questioning souls wonder what purpose their own stories might have in this life, and held so tightly the ones who have been ravaged and abused and oppressed.
There has never been a visit that didn’t include time with the vulnerable, and there has never been a visit that didn’t break my heart in some new way. And, so it is now.
Right now, my heart is busy breaking.
There is missing.
There is longing.
There is hoping.
And there is peace.
They all congregate in the same space. None crowds the other – all work together.
Heartbreak has let me see how beautiful the shards are in each of us, for we are all stories of beauty and fury. Storms rage around us and within us, threatening to reduce us to rubble. Yes, we are fractal upon fractal of shattered pieces – some like diamonds, others like dust.
The more I walk this road, the more I see our fragility. Yes, we are all shattered pieces, we are all shards. We have within us a million small moments, a million little fractures, a million little pieces of confetti’s celebration, a million little tears falling after delights and devastation.
And within us are the stories revealing mystery and purpose and the grit of grace and hope. Those stories are written when the pieces are placed like stained glass to gather light and reflect color. God Himself moves the pieces, refining the edges like prisms to cast rainbow-like promise into the lives of others. But He invites us in to lift His artistry high, out of the rubble, out of the dust.
We hold each other close, we hold each other up, we hold each other near, we hold each other high. We help each other find the light. We help each other shine. I think that’s what love does, really. It makes room for all our pieces. It welcomes our brokenness and our beauty. And it finds life in both.
I sit, looking out the window at the fountain as clouds cover the blue above. Raindrops begin to fall on the pink flowers so carefully arranged around a fern. Each was plucked from the earth and moved into place by hands that had greater vision as it held the blooms.
And so it is with us. God moves our shattered pieces into place. Hands gather ‘round to hold us together. We become beauty and meaning. We become and keep becoming, really. God continues to refine and move the shards into place, as we catch more light.
Oh, that we might all catch light. I’m praying now that there will be no rubble – only stained glass.
P.S. This poem has been part of my liturgy the past few days. I see the shards within it. And I see the stained glass.
We search and we search and yet find no meaning.
The search for a meaning leads to despair.
And when we are broken the heart find its moment
To fly and to feel and to work as it will
Through the darkness and mystery and wild contradiction.
For this is its freedom, its need and its calling;
This is its magic, its strength and its knowing.
To heal and make meaning while we walk or lie dreaming;
To give birth to love within our surrender;
To mother our faith, our spirit and yearning;
While we stumble in darkness the heart makes our meaning
And offers it into our life and creation
That we may give meaning to life and creation
For we only give meaning we do not find meaning:
The think we can’t find is the thing we shall give.
To make love complete and to honour creation.
Michael Leunig, The Prayer Tree