The breaking part was easy. I watched as the people around me named the pain point and threw the glass item.
Pieces flew further than expected.
That part seemed easy. I watched, not feeling the need to break anything for myself. I surely can name plenty of pain points in my life, but I didn’t feel the need for a cathartic breaking of things.
When the breaking was done, I grabbed a broom as others started picking up the bigger pieces. As I swept, a whole host of emotions unexpectedly rose within me. The cleaning up part seems harder, takes longer, has more potential for getting unexpectedly hurt.
The cleaning up is where I find myself in so many areas of my life.
As I swept up that broken glass, my mind went to the breaking happening in The United Methodist Church. Local churches are breaking. Families are breaking. There is a shattering that is happening. And in some ways, that breaking is the quicker, and dare I say easier, part of the work. People name the pain and with power/force, throw some words around the room.
The damaged pieces fly further than expected.
And after everyone stands and looks for a while, someone must clean up the mess left behind. The bigger pieces we can pick up easily. We know we need to get a broom and sweep up the smaller stuff too. In the sweeping though, sometimes we gather up things that could stay if we were a little more careful (like when I sweep up my kids’ LEGO pieces with the dust bunnies…). We might even look around to make sure we got everything, finding a stray broken piece way over there or under the edge of something. We might even find a broken sliver sticking to our own shoe or pantleg.
And sometimes in the pickup up and the sweeping, you get stuck by a sharp piece. Even when you are really careful and try to protect yourself, sometimes you just can’t avoid being inadvertently hurt.
And if you’ve ever swept up glass, you know there are always pieces missed. What if someone came walking barefoot, not knowing of the breaking that had been? What if they were an unsuspecting traveler, trusting the ground to be safe? But the missing broken piece was there, hiding in the grass or the rug or laying so small it was unseen. But once stepped on… you knew it was there. The drops of blood showing evidence of a breaking that had once been. The pain of the glass in the bare foot proof that something had happened.
And whether I think about the denomination that feels like home, or the people who are my family home, I see broken pieces that I did nothing to cause. I see the results of the words and actions of others. I ponder my role in it all – I was, after all, watching. I have caused breaking in other places. And I’m doing my best to sweep up all the pieces.
Sometimes I must stop and tend to a wound. Sometimes I must stop and look around to see the pieces that flew further than expected. And sometimes I must look really carefully for the hidden broken pieces that disguise themselves in other things.
And like today, just when I think I have everything cleaned up and can take it the broken pieces to the garbage, I make a mistake and the broken pieces fall everywhere again.
So, we start again. The pieces are easier to clean up the second time. And I know not to make the same mistake again.
And yes, I said WE start again. I wasn’t cleaning up alone. We all must be a part of it. We all must be looking for the brokenness that is hiding and yet unseen. We all must be ready to help those who are walking barefoot, trusting that the ground is safe, yet hurt by what we’ve left behind. We all must be ready to learn from our mistakes.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know where or how long I’ll continue to find broken pieces around me. I don’t know how I’ll be wounded in the cleaning up. And I don’t know who will continue to be hurt along the way.
What I do know is that I’ll continue to grab the broom and sweep up the pieces that I can. And I’ll have to trust the Holy Spirit to do the work that I cannot see.