BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
“I never realized that broken glass could shine so brightly!” Henri Nouwen, one of the great spiritual writers of modern times, wrote this in his book, Life of the Beloved. He goes on to develop this idea as he says: “As I write you now about our brokenness, I recall a scene from Leonard Bernstein’s Mass (a musical work written in memory of John F. Kennedy) that embodied for me the thought of brokenness put under the idea of blessing. Toward the end of this work, the priest, richly dressed in splendid liturgical vestments, is lifted up by his people, his hands on a glass chalice. Suddenly, the human pyramid collapses, and the priest comes tumbling down. His vestments are ripped off, and his glass chalice falls to the ground and is shattered. As he walks slowly through the debris of his former glory – barefoot, wearing old blue jeans and a T-shirt children’s voices are heard singing, ‘Praise, praise, praise.’ Suddenly the priest notices the broken chalice. He looks at it for a long time and then haltingly says, ‘I never realized that broken glass could shine so brightly.’”
This story reminds us that brokenness is actually a blessing; it can and will produce a better life for us. There’s a writer who believes that it puts us on the road to a breakthrough. Wants us to believe that God doesn’t use us despite our brokenness; he uses us through them. We don’t have to have it all together. We just need to place our trust in the One who does. God made us and loves us just as we are; we don’t have to prove anything! Father Ron Rohlheiser has a way of putting it interestingly and positively. He refers to us as scrambled eggs, scrambled in our own mistakes, and in spite of our brokenness God gives us a second, let alone a 70 x 7 chance to become whole again. Rohlheiser says, “The Christian’s task is to learn how to live again and again and again. God can’t unscramble the egg, but every time we close the door, God opens another for us. Further references of the blessedness of being broken are found in Scripture. In Psalm 34 we read: “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted.” Jesus himself told us “Blessed are the poor in spirit. They shall see God and God’s power will flow through their lives.” And Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercy and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those with any affliction with the comfort with which we are comforted by God.” Yes, God truly shines through the brokenness of our lives.
Paul’s statement clearly shows that our afflictions and brokenness have implications for our relationships with other people. As we continue in life we become more than ever aware of how little as well as how much we, although broken people, can do for others. We are chosen, blessed, and broken to be given to others. Beyond all our desires to be appreciated, rewarded and acknowledged, there lies a simple and pure desire to give whatever we can give: a smile, a word of love, our time, or a part of our life. We can be that broken glass that shines brightly in the lives of others. What a powerful affirmation to be assured that we have within us this “brightness” like that of a shining piece of glass meant to be shared. Let us be attentive, open and ready to give it to our brothers and sisters each and every day.