Saturday, May 3, 2014


What is this concept of brokenness?
Is it a posture, a pathway, a process? 
All of the above? 

"When you tell them, you won't cry. You won't shed a tear." This is the thought you stoically rehearsed in September. "It's a testimony, not a tear jerker. You're a victor. Not a victim."

It takes you a long time to say it, because you want your voice to be as steady as possible. You take a lot of breaths in between. When the tears started to come, you looked up at the ceiling so they wouldn't spill over, you only had to wipe your nose just the once. 

Two months later, at the Mourner's Bench, a strong voice demands: "Who told you not to show emotion?!"And the tears come and flow unbidden because you know who told you. You sob uncontrollably all the way home. Distress is clear on their faces and then the obvious, inane questions come: "Are you okay?" or "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No." A stupid question deserves that sort of answer, you think. 

When you wake from the night terrors, you don't scream or cry anymore. Your roommate doesn't even stir when you jerk awake, clawing your blankets. No tears, you console yourself, and breathe deep. This time you fought back--

"As the plot thickens, so does the skin." the poet-preacher lilts his homily, "That's your pride, woundedness, secret sin." It's a message about brokenness--illustrated by Mary at the feet of Jesus, unannounced and uninvited, pouring out her costly and precious gift. 

--but somehow the dreams have become more real. You feel that heaviness upon you, even heat sometimes, shifting faces of those trusted and familiar, the stinging betrayal deep in your gut, the give of a knife as you plunge it in.

Yes, there are no tears. But there is still more anger. 

"The only way we keep a soft heart is by not being afraid to be broken." he says. 

Eight months from the beginning, you lay prostrate on your face after service. The sorrow rises from some hollow in your chest, climbs up your throat, presses into your head. Your heart feels it, recognizes it, but... if you can push it down it won't be real. It won't reach your face, won't be known, can be forgotten. 

You always make excuses, rationalize why it's an inconvenient time.

Sometimes it's self-effacing: The storm in your head will disturb the peaceful atmosphere.

Sometimes it's self-conscious: If you start you'll never stop and someone is waiting for you.

Sometimes it's selfish:  It might make you or others feel sheepish if you let that guy know how affirmed you feel by teasing bumps and nudges because it shows he knows you're delicate but not fragile.

This time it's just stilted.

So you start to work it down, swallow it. Maybe later, in the privacy of your room or the car or the bathroom...  


So you lay there a while longer--tremble. You remember suddenly the bitter waters of Marah. The Hebrew root in Mary is the same as Marah.

Recall the poet-prophet's words: "...the oil of joy for mourning..."

A memory, a vision; phials, gleaming like jewels and full of liquid light--the knowledge that the essence was once your tears.


You wrote: "I'm tired of struggling with things I was initially forced to do..."

So many places you've loosed your grip, opened your hand. But you still obey your old master.

You-know-who told you not to cry.

Bitter waters, bitter tears.

And those are the ones I take to His feet and break like the alabaster jar, inconvenient and unannounced. But it is an oil both fragrant and pleasing, however costly.

It is genuine and pure and now. It is a sob that pierces the lull of a song in a dark room full of people. Weeping your gratitude, however ridiculous. Angry tears at your friend. It is resolution. No longer bitter.

Like the tree in waters of Marah, like the cross in our lives, somehow it makes something unfit into something pure.

One month left to go... And I've only just broken the silence.