Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how light gets in.
Anne Lamott uses those lines from Leonard Cohen’s Anthem, as a metaphor for how her life was changed. Struggling with substance abuse, an unwanted pregnancy and her father’s terminal illness, Lamott describes the situation ….
“I was cracking up. It was like a cartoon when something gets hit and one crack appears, which spider webs outward until the whole vase is cracked and hangs suspended for a moment before falling into a pile of powder on the floor.”
In her book Traveling Mercies, Lamott talks about how God’s love, and the compassionate care of the people in her church, acted as a kind of light, seeping through the cracks, helping patch together the pieces of her broken, suspended existence before she could crumple into oblivion.
Many people have similar experiences. Their situations may not always be as desperate or dramatic as Ms. Lamott’s, but for one reason or another they feel like their lives are cracking apart. Who will help them glue the shattered bits together before they turn to “powder on the floor”?
I once watched an accomplished craftswoman on the Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona make a clay pot. She used broken bits from her less than perfect creations to build a little oven in which to fire her latest work. The shattered pieces from her flawed products played a necessary role in the creation of something new. Ernest Hemingway said, “ the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
The Biblical character Joseph comes to a breaking point in his life. Motherless, hated by his brothers, sold into slavery and falsely accused of sexual misconduct he lands up in prison. In the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote these words for Joseph to sing from the cell where he is incarcerated “ Close every door to me, Hide all the world from me. Bar all the windows and shut out the light.”
Yet somehow the light seeps through the bars of his cell. Joseph is able to put his life back together. The new, wiser Joseph heals the cracks in his relationship with his brothers and creates a more hopeful future for his family. The most broken area of his life is made strong.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “there is a crack in everything God has made and not least of all in each one of us.” During this time of uncertainty in our world may we look for ways to let the light shine in through the cracks and broken places in our lives. May we be the kind of people who despite our own less than perfect offerings, try to bring the light of God’s healing love to others.