I don’t know if any of us can get through the day without seeing something broken.
Broken hearts, broken dreams, broken bodies, broken down homes and broken down systems. Broken people who know only how to keep breaking – themselves and others.
We label people as broken, disabled, unstable. We call out the person who causes devastation and we point out the person who has been devastated.
But what if all the labeling and pointing is only to keep the brokenness out there? What if it’s not as far removed as we think?
I dare you to have an honest conversation with a single person – your spouse, your coworker, your neighbor, that woman you just passed on the street, I dare you to peel back layers and take a look inside. You’ll find something that is breaking. Maybe you don’t even have to have to peel any layers back. Maybe you can just see it by looking at their deteriorating body or that heaviness chiseled in their vacant eyes.
We’re all breaking into a million pieces. Like an intricate puzzle whose thousand pieces have been flung into the wind – scattered and shattered.
It would be easier if we could keep this mess confined to the few people who put their brokenness on display. The gunmen, the terrorists, the cancer patients, the mentally ill who are, definitely, very much, worse off than us. Those poor broken people over there wreaking havoc – willingly or not – in our otherwise peaceful society.
I want all the broken and ugly puzzle pieces cleaned up and put in an isolated box marked contaminated, meanwhile I’ll be over here polishing all my pieces and hanging their beauty on display.
But polished or not my pieces – your pieces – they’re just that. Pieces. Fragments of who I am – divided, scattered, broken.
It’s a messy world and no amount of boxes and compartments will clean it up.
We cry when tragedy strikes. We wail and mourn and grieve and we cry out for some peace in this troubled land. Shalom, we beg. Grant us shalom. We think it means peace. And we think peace means no more war, no more violence, no more disease that rots, no more turning on the news to see broken people breaking the world apart.
And perhaps this is apart of shalom. But maybe, there’s something more.
Shalom – this ancient word of blessing – it means that the peace we’re crying for is not merely the subtraction of all things ugly but rather the mending of all things broken. It is a prayer for these puzzle pieces of our lives to be rejoined, carefully put back in place, the gaps filled in, the missing parts to be found. It is a prayer for wholeness.
Because when we’ve been put back together, when we are not missing or hiding or isolating parts of who we are, when we allow each piece to be carefully put back in place, then we at last find the health and heartiness that we’ve been scrambling after for so long.
This is the peace we are truly after.
Some might call it integrity. No longer are we compartmentalizing the different parts of ourselves, no longer do we put our pieces in different piles – the career pile, the church-face pile, the physical body pile, the relationships pile, the pile of good emotions to feel and the pile of the ones we’d rather ignore. Everything is shuffled together. Our entire being is integrated and connected. Our insides match the life we’re living outside.
We are whole.
It doesn’t mean perfection. It doesn’t mean a world without trouble – we all know that won’t come until Christ returns. But it does mean that the fragments once dismembered and tossed to the wind are at last being put back together.
You can still see the lines in the puzzle that were once broken. Like a beautiful vase that has been shattered and meticulously glued back together. You can see the outline of each of the individual pieces. But joined together they are hardly noticeable. Instead is a whole picture, a whole vessel – each piece playing its part in creating something beautiful.
And when whole people walk out the doors and go into the world they aren’t adding to the wreckage. They restore, they mend, they fill gaps, they add beauty. They are the physical manifestation of the prayer for Shalom – the prayer that begs “thy Kingdom come.”