Some days I feel like I’m walking about wrapped in cotton, plastic bubble wrap, yards of foam. My heart is covered with layers of callous, one deposited over another as the years pass and I am broken, scarred, and broken again. Some days I wonder if my eyes are covered with scales, like the blind man who Jesus healed. Scales that prevent me from seeing things clearly and, some times, from seeing things at all.
How is it that we build this up, this protective shell? How do we forget its presence, carry on as if nothing were wrong? Did the layers form so gradually that I did not notice, over time, that my senses were dulled and my heart’s cry was muffled? When did my ears become deaf to the suffering of others, my eyes blind to the poor? When did the compassion in my heart close up shop, flip the sign in the window over to “Sorry, We’re Closed,” and lock the door?
This world rubs against the tender heart and builds up scars, protection against the bumps and jolts and sadness of a broken world. We huddle in the protective swaddling of collected hurts, dulled by the layers of apathy that our brokenness wants to believe offer protection, offer safety.
What also does not get through the shell of protection is Grace.
We are half-awake, dim reflections of what we were created to be. These layers of hurt and apathy, these chosen blind-spots and muffled deafness don’t let in the shocking truth of the broken world, the crushing sadness of the state of things or the piercing knowledge of life’s frailty. And they also don’t let in the shaft of warm, cleansing light…the cool waters of redemption, the healing understanding of God’s love and power.
Do you have moments when something penetrates the layers, breaks through the shell? Do you know moments when God’s light floods you, when Truth is bare and clean and plain before you and nothing stands between you and this vivid, fallen, beautiful reality? When the true plight of the poor and the broken are clear, when their real need cries loud into your ears and breaks your heart, when the lost and the hurting come sharply into focus and you know, you really know that it’s God who saves and God who this thirsty world needs to drink in deep, and that you and I are really no different and no less needy. That we are wrapped in the shell of our richness, our lack of want, our privileged and narrow lives. That we don’t see the need of others and we look past the need in our own hearts and, in doing so, we fail to live fully what we are called to live.
The heart that never knows thirst, never knows the joy of drinking deeply cool, healing water, and the soul that denies it is broken never opens itself up to be healed.
I am thinking today of Ann Voskamp’s trip to Guatemala with Compassion International, and of the plight of Orphans in Eastern Europe and Elsewhere and of the Least of These and of the suffering of the homeless and love-less here in our country, too. I am praying that hearts break, slough off the scales and scars and layers and open wide to let in light, let in purpose, embrace the Truth. That I learn to accept being Perfectly Broken,to embrace the fact that these cracks that I fight hard to keep closed are the spaces that God can fill, that only God can fill.
A note on the photo…I sat thinking of something I could photograph that was broken, and remembered seeing an old wine bottle outside our gate. I found it buried in leaves, shot several pictures. Then saw the heart-shape in the broken bottle–a little gift, I think.