The other day I was cleaning the windowsill above my kitchen sink, probably the largest collection of such useless items in the house, and I noticed that the flower on one such figurine was loose. Not really that surprising, since the poor thing has been glued back together close to half a dozen times.
Two of the items I've determined to be "worth dusting for" are ceramic birds that belonged to my Grandmother Jensen. Their origin is a mystery to me, but they resided on a three-legged, tiered occasional table in her formal living room. The Jensen farmhouse was not a large house, but it had a formal living room where we often took family pictures and where we kids were not supposed to play. I remember running full tilt through the circuitous routes that could be taken through that home, our feet pounding on the the floor the way that can only be done in a pier-and-beam home ... but we always slowed to a walk to pass through the formal living room.
On occasion, rules were forgotten (I don't recall ever deliberately disobeying them) and we ended up playing in the forbidden room. Three-legged tables just aren't stable, and these two birds ended up in pieces. Several times. If Grandma Jensen was ever upset by this, we sure never knew it. I can still picture my dad on more than one occasion, seated at the dining table, meticulously gluing the poor figurines back together.
To me, these two little cracked and chipped figurines are filled with memories. Memories of gentle scolding, grace, and care. When we care about something that is broken, we take the trouble to put it back together. When a marriage is attacked and cracked, you work together to put back the pieces. When a rebellious child takes off and leaves a trail of hurt and broken places, you mend them and pray for them to return when they themselves are ready for healing.
And sometimes the glue is stronger than the original piece, and sometimes it keeps cracking along the same fault.
And sometimes things are so broken that they can't be repaired. Not long ago Tim went out with a chainsaw to work on cutting up the two huge oak trees that fell in a storm last May. Shelby said that he was going to put them back up and fix them. As best I could, I explained to her that when trees fall over their roots can't get what they need and they die. Now their skeletal remains are a hazard in our yard so they need to be removed from our lives as much as we loved them.
Relationships get cracked or broken and you have to determine ... is this one worth repairing? Broken beyond repair? Or is trying to repair it too dangerous? Do you need help to repair it?
More often than not, we become even more protective of something we've repaired than we were when it looked like new. I doubt these birds would have meant anything to me had they never gotten broken. There is a rugged beauty to cracks and scars. We say that a piece has "character" when it isn't perfect. The scuffs and scrapes on our furniture, our walls, our floors ... often they hold a memory. I don't look at the stretch marks on my stomach and scoff and moan, they remind me that these two amazing little people living in our house ... I got to carry them. Share their heartbeat for a little while. Protect them and feel their every move; every little hiccup a delight.
Perhaps the most poignant illustration of a broken beauty is Christ. He was beaten and whipped beyond recognition. His skin hung in tatters; inhuman. His hands and feet were run through with iron, his side with a spear, his skull pounded with thorns. And just when it seemed He was conquered He rose again. Bearing those marks God could have erased. Reassuring Thomas. Through His brokenness, we can be made whole.
God can make the broken beautiful.