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Beauty and Brokenness by Kim Reisman

My mother and sister are artists. I am not. I have other gifts (lest anyone worry about my self-esteem), but art isn’t one of them. That’s why I love spending time with my mother and sister. There is something entirely different and inspiring about the creativity God has given them.

Years ago, my sister spent a week with me while her son attended a camp at a nearby university. One of the many reasons I looked forward to that week was because we were planning to undertake an outdoor art project while she was there – something I never would have done on my own.

We had recently finished a kitchen remodel and I had a good deal of tile left over, so we decided to create a tile mural on the side of our deck. I was so excited! Of course, when I thought about a tile mural, I envisioned using the existing square tiles to create something nice, neat, and orderly. Not Kerry. She envisioned a mosaic. Why don’t we just break these tiles up and use the pieces to make something new?

A mosaic? (gulp) Ok….

It was hard work. And fun.

And we were quite pleased with the finished product. It brought beauty to my back yard and a smile to my face every time I looked at it, reminding of my sister, her joy in living, her unboundaried creativity, and willingness to risk doing big things. It was a source of encouragement to me as well. Kerry wasn’t the only bold one! I had stepped out of my neat, orderly box, dared to create a mosaic, and it worked!

But then winter came, one of the most bitter we had seen in years – record lows, snow, ice, more snow. A possible precursor to the record-breaking winter weather we’ve had in more recent years. It seemed that spring would never arrive. But it finally did and when we began to tend to the yard, we discovered that my beloved mosaic hadn’t survived the sub-zero (Fahrenheit, mind you) temperatures.

I was heartbroken. It hadn’t worked after all. My mosaic lay in a crumbled heap.

My husband, John, knew that I would have a hard time throwing any of it away so he swept it all up and put it in a big bucket. Spring gave way to summer and then to fall. The bucket stayed on the deck where John had left it. Winter came once more – another hard one. It lingered like the last one, but finally it was nice enough to get back into the yard. I began clearing beds and getting my pots ready to plant.

And there was the bucket, still sitting there filled with all the broken pieces. I decided I had to do something about the remnants so I sifted through them and came across a big chunk with the various smaller pieces still intact. You could even tell what it was – the head of one of the geckos in the mosaic. His red eyes shone and I realized he was still kind of pretty, even though he was broken. I had recently bought a big candle globe that I had planned to line with rocks, but decided that he would look nice nestled inside. As I began to arrange him in the candle globe, I realized that all those mosaic pieces – even though they were broken – if they were gathered together, all those pieces would look quite lovely inside the candle globe.

That big candle globe filled with the broken mosaic pieces of my beloved project has brought me great joy over these past years. Not in the same way as before, of course. But each time I see it, I’m reminded of my sister, who continues to challenge me with the freedom of her creativity. And I’m still encouraged to be bold and to take creative risks.

But there has always been something different about this new thing that emerged out of the old. Each time I light the candles and watch the light dance and the mosaic pieces glow and shimmer, I’m reminded of the mysterious intermingling of beauty and brokenness, brokenness and beauty.

As I have journeyed in faith, one of the most significant discoveries that has helped move me forward is the recognition that even though the Holy Spirit is always moving within us and around us, we seldom become aware of that presence until we are willing to be honest about the depth of both the beauty and the brokenness within each of us. But once we’re willing to be honest, the Holy Spirit moves within us in ways we could never have anticipated. And the integrity and authenticity of our witness grows in tandem with that honesty.

In this time of Lenten reflection and preparation, I pray you would be willing to open yourself to the presence of the Holy Spirit that comes when we are honest about the depth of both our beauty and our brokenness. And even more importantly, that you would be empowered to share honestly with others about both of those things, so that all can know that nothing is beyond the power of the Holy Spirit to heal, mend, and transform.