Tag Archives: brokenness

Muses

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What inspires us…

My friend David shared an insight with me years ago that I have never forgotten.  He said that all creative/artistic types have more than one outlet for expression.  That one bit of wisdom has held true for me, even before he said the words to me and, in fact, since long before I ever met him.

I read somewhere that famed fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy cited Audrey Hepburn as being the inspiration for much of his design work…she was his muse.  Over the years I have found my own inspiration in many places, things and people.  A conversation with a valued friend can spark an idea for a blog post, or for a different way to interpret a phrase in a song I am working on; seasonal change and the beauty of nature often urge me to snap photographs, capturing a moment of color, texture, light and shadow; a sound, scent or memory can prompt me to write a poem, haiku or brief passage which might eventually find its way into a larger work.

Inspiration does not always come from things that are traditionally considered beautiful.  Sometimes an inspiring image is one depicting pain, brokenness, sickness or even death.  For me, if a thing evokes a strong emotion, it can serve as a muse.  I want to explore it further, document how it makes me feel…to wonder about, or create, its story.

In future posts, I hope to write more about my various muses, their stories, the reasons I find them so meaningful and inspiring.  You may find yourself mentioned here, or pictured here.  You may see a photo that evokes an emotional response.  I hope you do!

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Tears Of A Clown

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When a helper needs help…

A couple of months ago, I found a little dead bird outside one of the large plate glass windows at work.  The windows are slightly mirrored on the outside, and birds fly into them from time to time, breaking their little necks.  This bird was exquisite and tiny, with greenish-yellow feathers on his back and wings, and a whitish breast.

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Outside he was intact, with no visible injuries.  So beautiful and small. But inside, he was broken.

I’ve been feeling like that lately.  Today was the 17th anniversary of Mama’s death, and the days of the week this year are the same as the year she died.  I remember things like this.  Plus, two days ago was a full moon, which in my experience brings on more vivid dreams.  Mama’s anniversary and the moon waxing toward full have brought on a lot of dead people dreams.  I’ve had dreams of Mama, Aunt Ruby and Aunt Martha and Lola clustered very close together in the last couple of weeks.  Even Ernie The Wonder Beagle showed up in a dream.

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The people I am closest to know that I have a sensitive side; they’ve been subjected to it throughout our lives.  But, while I consider myself to be pretty transparent most of the time, I don’t expose my tender places a lot.  I’m a good listener (so I’ve been told, anyway) and more often than not, I am the person who offers the shoulder to cry on.  Even my Enneagram research bears this out.  I am an Ennea-type 2—The Helper.

And that’s great.  Most of the time.  But it is a mixed blessing.

Most of the time I am a jokester, a clown.  I laugh easily and usually I try to bring others along for a ride on The Goofball Express.  That is the side of myself I am most comfortable with other people seeing, and I think it’s the side they are most used to.

It’s hard for a clown like me to even NEED help, much less to ADMIT that I need it.  It feels naked, exposed.  It feels vulnerable.  I tend to be much more comfortable with the vulnerability of other people than with my own.

But clowns like me cry sometimes.  Our tender places need to be soothed and comforted.  I have struggled the past couple of days with grief and sad memories, feeling weepy and lonesome.  I told Sweet Pea a little while ago that sometimes I just get so tired of missing people.  He listened to me with loving concern and compassion, telling me there was no need to apologize (which I always do when I cry.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  My tears were generally not accepted very well as I was growing up, except by Aunt Ruby.).  He has dealt with many tears of mine over the years, and while it hurts him to see me hurting, he listens without judging.  It’s a priceless gift.

My bouncy, clownish self will return soon enough.  There are gag Christmas presents to give and ugly sweaters to wear.  There is music (and cake) to be made.   But this day…this day has witnessed the tears of a clown.

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The Places No One Sees

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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.

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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.

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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.

Beauty In Brokenness

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Why the end is sometimes a new beginning

For several years we enjoyed birds nesting in a bush in front of our porch. What a joy to discover a little tangle of leaves, twigs and mud appearing, growing larger each day until a nest was recognizable. Birds are wonderful builders and watching them make a home for their brood is fascinating.

Once the nest was completed, the eggs began to appear, little vessels of sky blue holding the transpiring miracle of albumen and life. Mama Robin would deposit one egg per day until the nest was full of the four she ultimately laid there.Image

Watching her on the nest and waiting for the eggs to hatch was riveting for me and I stalked the bush and the nest with camera in hand and childlike anticipation of the coming baby-bird parade.  Several times each day I would go out to inspect the nest and see whether Mama Robin was sitting on the eggs or gone to find some food for herself.  Image

When the eggs hatched I happened to catch the process as it unfolded.  The miracle of birth!  I had just said goodbye to Jeff as he left for work that morning, and it was a day off for me, so I checked the nest and one of the little babies was pecking its way through the shell right before my eyes.  I was bolted to the spot as I beheld this spectacle of one tiny bird, then its nest-mates, fighting to be born.Image

My daily obsession continued as I followed their growth and progress, listening to the wails of hungry infant birds, watching Mama Robin as she took such expert care of her little family.  This was great stuff!  And I knew that before long the babies would leave the nest and fill my dogwood tree with birdsong and flight.

A new robin’s nest appeared the following year…but so did a neighborhood cat, who demolished the nest and the eggs. leaving behind only the empty nest with a broken shell to remind me that life is fragile and nothing is promised.  Nature is not always kind.

Like the shell of a robin’s egg, sometimes we have to be broken in order for a new thing to be born.  Jesus talked about wheat dying in the ground in order to sprout and grow grain.  Caterpillars have to break through the chrysalis to spread their new butterfly wings and fulfill their destiny.  Brokenness is a hard thing, a painful thing.  And sometimes it is a needed thing.  Lord, when I am broken, remind me that it’s not forever…and that it is for something new to be born.  Image