Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week IV - The Broken Cup

I have become like a broken vessel. ~ Psalm 31:12
Is it possible to grow
without brokenness?
"I was offering a Lenten retreat day based on the image of the cup and had just stopped speaking in order to take a morning coffee break with the group, I looked up and there, coming toward the podium, was a woman in her early fifties. She was wobbling, leaning heavily on a five-pronged cane, her head shaking from side to side. When she came up to me I could barely understand her speech. She tried to tell me how a severe asthma attack caused a coma that left her with brain damage. This brave, wounded woman had begun learning to talk and walk all over again."She had struggled to walk to the front of the room in order to tell me about the cup she had brought with her. She said she had no idea what the day was about other than that she was to bring a cup with her. Then she showed me her cup.The handle had been broken off leaving two sharp poking edges in its place. I gasped. It couldn't have been a better symbol for what had recently happened to her." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 87)
January 1998 my life was forever changed.  I was a passenger in a car that flipped three times and rolled twice. My neck was broken at C2 and because of my twisting/turning within the seat belt, I had spinal cord damage as well. There are many things about the weeks that followed that are only a blur, but two images that remain sharp in my mind was 1. the day my PT stood me up between those brass parallel bars so I could begin the process of learning how to walk and 2. the painstakingly slow process of helping me get my thought processes to work.
Broken. Repaired, Discovering
a  new way of be-ing.

Eighteen months later, I attended my first meeting with a group that I was to have begun meeting with in January of '98.  After we adjourned, a woman helped me to my car and express sadness that I had experienced such a bad time. I was caught off guard and had to think...then I responded, "I like the person I am becoming. I don't know if I would be where I am today without that car accident."

"The broken cup reminds me of those times when hurts, wounds, pains, and adversities of all sorts invade our lives and change us forever. During these times all we can do is try to survive, slowly recover, and start anew." (Rupp, p 88)
There is brokenness that is severe and requires a lot of time to repair...and to then discover a new way of be-ing. There is also brokenness that consists of daily obstacles and simple irritations. It might be the daily pain following an accident, it might also be the "run of bad luck" we sometimes have to navigate.
"Whatever the difficulty that we experience, it can be a source of our spiritual growth. So much depends on how we view these pieces of brokenness and what we do or do not do with them." (Ibid)
Joyce quotes Madeleine L'Engle who wrote: "I look back at my mother's life and I see suffering deepening and strengthening it. In some people I have also seen it destroy. Pain is not always creative; received wrongly, it can lead to alcoholism and madness and suicide. Nevertheless without it we do not grow." (Walking On Water)

I have journaled before that it seems like with each turn of the page, Joyce asks me to go deeper, to peel back another layer of my cocoon. Today she writes:
"What would happen if we met our frustrations, pains, and heartache as we would met a visitor having something to teach us? What if we lingered a bit with our brokenness and asked it to help us to grow? What might we learn from those pieces of our lives that are still wanting and incomplete? (Ibid)
Advil PM and Biofreeze
my bedtime companions.
Rather than doing my best to numb the constant pain that I experience...embrace it and ask it to help me learn from those pieces of my life that ares still wanting and incomplete?

"...that part of your life that empties you or fragments you - to discover how it has been, or can be, a teacher for your growth. It is also a week to find comfort as you pray about the strength and shelter of God and to deepen your hope as you reflect on aspects of healing." (Rupp, p 89)

Pondering growth that is
within difficult times.
             Joyce suggests you and I turn our cup on its side to remind us of the pain and powerlessness of being broken.  She asks that we leave the cup on its side unless the day's prayer indicates otherwise.  Also, she asks that we put a seed or a packet of seeds by your cup for this week. "Let it remind you of how the seed's husk must be broken open before the green shoot comes forth. May it also remind you of the power for personal growth that is within your difficult times."

Anne Lamott
Anne Lamott has written, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work, and you don't give up."
Hope begins in the dark.


Yesterday I asked my friend if it was possible to grow without brokenness.  At the time I had not looked ahead to know that Week IV of Joyce's book would be The Broken Cup. For the next six days: 1. Joy and Sorrow, 2. The Cup of Suffering, 3. My Cup of Tears, 4. The Unmendable Cup, 5. Recognizing Resistances, and 6.The Mended Cup.

Powerful words that have offered me the gift of hope, 
a moment of many times.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Casting Crowns

1 comment:

  1. So many times, mine are storms that I create and brokenness that is self-created - I hope to learn to be more willing to offer praise to the One who lets me come to Him -just as I am. And...I know and believe that He is always eagerly waiting with open arms for me to be in relationship with Him - the giver of life and joy.