October has been unseasonably warm, allowing for more time outside. Today I set out on a hike down a winding path through a beautiful Colorado Open Space. There were few people to interrupt the serenity of the day as I navigated the trail, passing an old homestead, a pond and a herd of elk. Toward the end of the trail I came upon an old mining camp with several buildings still in tact and pieces of an old railroad running away from the buildings. I stepped onto the porch of, what seemed to be, the bunk house. Intrigued with the history there, I peeked into every window trying to get a glimpse into the past. I headed around the back of the cabin and my eye caught a collection of glass and broken pieces on a window sill. It was all so beautiful and yet so shattered. I couldn't move from that place. I wanted to take those pieces and put them back together, make them into something whole. But I knew they would never go back together. There was no return.
A line from a song ran through my head, "pick up the pieces and go on." How, I thought, can that ever be done? When life shatters and loss engulfs you there seems to be no choice but to lay, motionless in a broken heap. But how quickly we want to gather up all those pieces, put them in a jar and screw the lid on tight and hide it away in a dark closet, never having to look at them again. There is also another reaction- to pick up the pieces and hurl them at whatever or whomever has caused the pain, hoping the sharp edges will cause as much damage and pain as we are feeling. All of this does allow for a temporary easing of the pain.
I saw my life in those pieces, wanting so desperately to return them to their present state. I would never have them back in their original state. I would never return to the person I had been. So then, what do I do with them? I knew if I was going to survive I would need to lay each broken piece out in front of me. One piece was the loss of the past, what life had been to me, my old identity. Another was the loss of the future and how loss changed so many of my anticipated future events. I lost myself and feared even more loss. Releasing control and allowing myself to be broken was one of the most difficult pieces. But I had to find the courage within me to touch each one, to feel it, to weep and to then build something new.
On that day as I gazed at all those broken pieces I began to see the beauty in each separate piece instead of only hoping for their collective beauty to return. This image helped me to stop trying to put it all back together, but allow myself to see beauty in my brokenness, to let wholeness emerge from me in my very broken state. The struggle to "fix it" ceased. I now viewed myself as broken and beautiful.