I had this plate. It sat displayed on a high ledge in the entryway of my home. It was a beautiful plate with an intricate pattern; one that Shawn and I had collected from our many travels. Made of matted-grey mud clay, the artist had detailed the plate with the shapes of a fish, a crab and a lobster in a circular pattern using a white stone-washed natural paint.
One day while dusting, the plate slipped off the ledge, fell to the floor below and as expected shattered into many pieces.
I called my sister who is good at helping me fix many things in my life and asked, “Cindy, is there anything I can do with this broken plate?” I didn’t want to throw it away.
She immediately suggested to take it to her friend who was a mosaic artist. This felt like a good idea.
Weeks later I received my plate back in a new design, completely different than it had once been. In fact, it was no longer a plate. Now it was a beautiful wall hanging; strong and lovely. Each broken piece swirled together within the new art piece creating an original yet mysterious shape.
The intriguing pattern drew me in reminding me of when I was a little girl imagining what the various shapes of the clouds configured –were they forming a goat or a whale or a soft little puppy? As soon as I would try to point them out, they would quickly change into something different.
I was captivated by the new wall hanging and placed it in my entryway in an even more prominent place than it had been before. I wanted everyone who entered my home to see it and be welcomed by it.
I am that broken plate.
My life was completely shattered when Shawn died and at the time (and even now on most current days) I owned few ideas on how to piece life back together.
I continue to miss him with every turn, every holiday, every non-holiday, and what feels like every breath. I watch other couples hurt one another and want to yell stop! I want them to see the precious gift they indeed have even if there are irritations and disappointments. I want to point out that my husband was killed unexpectedly and over two years later my heart continues to bear that wounded scar. But, I don’t say anything. I hold this all inside. My private days are wrapped around the moment my world shattered as I try to continue this life without him yet feel like I am simply learning how to endure this life with him gone.
Looking at his dad’s photo tonight, my son asked me, “Mom, that used to be my dad’s picture. If you died you could be my dad. But, you are not my dad. You are my mom. Mom, why did daddy die? Can you tell me? You can tell me, mom?”
I looked at my precious blond boy wonder with only four years of age, wondering to myself where should I begin?
It is my suspect that many reading this entry have also experienced broken plates in their lives: broken dreams, broken hearts, broken hurts. And it is my guess that in the center of this severe pain lies many unanswered questions.
If it isn’t a personal hurt, maybe there is sadness in watching someone close (a son, a spouse, a best friend) go through deep loss or struggle. And the hardest part of watching is not knowing what to say or do that could possibly make it better. It can be a hopeless feeling to not be able to offer comfort.
It is in the midst of this pain that the message of Christmas meets the broken heart. According to Psalm 51, the sacrifice God desires is a broken spirit. A heart-shattered life does not escape the attention of God. God sees my broken plate. He sees not only the hurt, but the potential.
It is in this broken place that the message of Christmas becomes our message of hope. This is the Christmas story. God came to save us. God came to renew our spirits. God came to make something strong, and lovely and beautiful. God came to fix broken plates.