Skip to main content

Advent Brokenness

Arrival of the Shepherds, artist Henri Lerolle
It was a lovely May evening, the kind we in Michigan savor like honey. After the brutal cold of winter, flowers blossomed, grass greened, mosquitoes flocked. School was almost done for the year - just the formalities of 8th grade graduation were ahead.

Why not saddle up the horse and go for a ride? Why not, indeed. So my sister and I did. I took Prince out across the road from our house, to romp through the weeds on a path my father mowed for us. The view from horseback on a spring night - well, nearly Heaven.

Until Prince bolted. He spooked. I fell. And my arm broke. Compound fracture.

My dog, a collie, had followed us out. He was not particularly trusting of Prince, as Prince would never allow himself to be herded, and this vexed my collie. My dog, channeling his inner Lassie, ran home without me.

My sister had been in the yard with her boyfriend at the time, Gary, waiting for me to come back. Instead, it was just the dog loping across the road. That didn't seem right, so my sister's boyfriend came out in search of me.

I was probably about 1/4 of a mile from home, and decided God helps those who help themselves, cowgirl up and all that. Holding my left arm gingerly, I started back across the field, leaving the damn horse to graze.

Gary, seeing me at a distance, yelled out, "You ok, sis?" And I yelled back, "No. My arm is broken." He didn't seem sure he'd heard me correctly, but as he neared and took one look at my arm, it was quite clear. And then he went into shock.

I kept walking, yelling back over my shoulder to him to go get the damn horse.

My sister and mother were in the driveway. My mom, a nurse, immediately stuck me in the passenger side of the car and then went in the house to get something to splint my arm with. She told my sister to keep an eye on me. My sister then went into shock.

Mom returned with two issues of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and a couple of long rags, which she used to splint my arm. I had already lost some blood, and Mom thought maybe she should call the ambulance. However, we lived almost precisely in the middle of nowhere, and we were about 30 minutes from the hospital. I told her no, you drive.

Many things happened after that, not the least of which were some lovely drugs that kept me from too much reality for a few days. Besides shattering about an inch of bone in my forearm, I also did some nerve damage, losing sensation in some of my fingers and part of my hand - which I never regained. I have a gnarly scar and a lumpy arm - forever broken.

I was struck, this past Sunday, by the brokenness in the readings. Isaiah speaks of the feeble, the weak, the frightened. The psalm echoes: we are strangers, outsiders, hungry, alone. Jesus affirms His identity in the Gospel by drawing attention to the fact that healing is taking place; the broken are no longer broken, but whole.

On Christmas Day, we will gather around the Christ Child. It will be a scene of brokenness. A place where animals are housed, a feeding crib - not a bed for a baby - will have to suffice. A womb broken. A young woman giving birth with none of the female attendants: her mother, an aunt, a cousin, to help.The poor shepherds, used to being only on the periphery, are now brought, smelly and dirty and unclean, to see their Savior. Joseph, a man broken by the news that his espoused was to bear a child not his, is now protector and guide and husband and father.

And then there is us. We stand behind the shepherds, peering over their shoulders. We sidestep a lamb, bump a cow out of the way. We limp forward. We gingerly hold a broken limb close to our chest. Our knees shake. We stretch out a palsied hand.

And the Mother nods to us. Yes, come near. He is here for you.

You will not be left in a field alone. You no longer have to pick yourself up and find help. No drugs will be necessary to soothe your pain. The One Who Is has arrived. He is broken for you. He knows the pain, even in his little baby body.

The shepherds move aside for you. Their dog, still on alert, presses close to their legs. Yes, here is where the healing is, you think. Here my brokenness will be no more.


Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Trauma Mama

Dear Husband and I both enjoy certain medical shows, such as "ER" and "Code Black." ("St. Elsewhere" was another fave!) These shows revolve around trauma: humans who'd been ambushed by life: a car accident, a fire, and abuse, as examples.

More often than not, these shows also highlight the trauma the doctors and nurses needed to deal with. Having a patient die is always offensive to a doctor: they are charged with saving lives and losing one is the ultimate failure. Nurses spend more time with patients, and can forge strong bonds with people that may be in their lives for just a few days.

But trauma doesn't always look like a bloody body being wheeled into an emergency room, or a house surrounded by fire trucks and police cars. Trauma comes in many forms.

According to one website, trauma can look like surgery. It can look like moving. Trauma can be losing a beloved spouse or more horrifying, a child. Trauma can also be chronic pain, loneliness, m…

Be Brave

A few years ago, it came to my attention that a young family member was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was able to share with her a bit of my own struggles, and let her know she wasn't alone.

A few weeks after our talk, I saw the movie, "Brave." It struck me that the young protagonist, Merida, modeled a great quality. She was indeed brave.

Being brave is not about recklessness. It is not about confidence. It's not about being foolish, or looking for glory in the eyes of others.

Bravery is about doing what is right, even when you are a quivering mess. It's about knowing that things may not turn out the way you expected, but forging ahead anyway. Being brave is standing by the hospital bed while a loved one is dying, and all you really want to do is turn back time. Bravery is standing up to a bully, when your legs are screaming for you to run. Brave is doing what needs to be done even when you're scared and tired and feeling helpless and hopeless.

I …