When brokenness is hidden…
For a couple of years now, a tiny, red glass Christmas ornament has been hanging in one of the spruces outside my immediate work area. I’ve watched it for the longest time, as seasons have changed, rain and snow have come, followed by warm sunshine and then summer storms and buffeting winds, all roiling around the tree and the little ornament. I have always wondered who put it there, and marveled that no one ever removed it.
For a long time the little red ball was shiny and new-looking. And even now, if I look at it from the right angle, it still shines and appears to be intact. Beautiful and whole.
If I turn to the other side, however, the true state of the little red ball becomes obvious. The shiny surface is showing signs of age and wear, and a huge piece of it is missing. It’s broken.
A few months ago at church, it was the Sunday for healing rites, a time during the service when those who wish can have the pastor anoint them with balm and offer a prayer and blessing for healing. I partake of this rite whenever I have the opportunity to do so. This particular Sunday it occurred to me that someone looking on might wonder why I would do this. I am not obviously sick, disabled or visibly infirm.
The fact is, I am always in need of healing, of blessing. Always in need of the loving touch of God’s hand. Broken in places no one sees.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of us are broken in one way or another. Some brokenness is obvious. Drug problems, illnesses, disabilities that limit our quality of life are all around us, and often they are pretty easy to spot. Other kinds of brokenness don’t show themselves so readily. Often people appear to be perfectly fine, perfectly whole, on the outside. But very few of us actually are whole.
If we take the time to look at each other from a different angle, we might detect brokenness…or we might not. Most of us become experts at hiding it. I certainly don’t want everybody knowing all about my broken places. They make me vulnerable, and being vulnerable opens me up to the possibility of becoming still more broken.
There are broken people, walking wounded, everywhere I go. I pray that my own brokenness makes me more sensitive to the broken places in other people…the places an x-ray can’t reveal. The places no one sees.