Today’s post is a repost from a few years ago, but as I looked at my garden with almost all the walls broken down this is what came to me. It is OK to break down walls, but it is easy for us then to run away from what the wall reveals, or we try to rebuild the walls so that they are even stronger, yet that is not what God asks of us.
This post and the prayer that goes with it was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s powerful song “Anthem” which I link to at the bottom of the post. His prophetic voice and challenging words are very appropriate for our world today. He reminds us that there is indeed a crack in everything but this is not a reason for despair but rather for hope because this is indeed how the light gets in. I use this prayer at the beginning of the chapter on compassion in The Gift of Wonder.
In Eager to Love, Richard Rohr comments that St Francis of Assisi asked us to stay close to the cracks in the social fabric of our world. It is a thought worth reflecting on.
Everything in our lives and in our world has cracks, wounds and broken places that tell of pain and suffering. When we break down walls, cracks emerge. Sometimes we try to cover them over, attempting to seal them off from the light. But this only makes them fester and get worse.
Yet it is in the cracks, the broken places of our lives, where violence flares and pain cries out that healing also happens. When we acknowledge imperfections and the pain they cause, we take the first step towards wholeness. It is into the cracks that light can shine and water can seep. It is in the cracks in the concrete that seeds can lodge, germinate and take root. And as green shoots reach for the sky, the crack enlarges, the concrete crumbles and what was meant to live and breathe thrives once more.
What is your response?
Sit quietly in the presence of God, allowing the love of the holy and ever present One to wash over you. Read through the prayer above several times. What cracks in your world, what places of woundedness and vulnerability that give you ongoing pain come to mind? In what ways have you tried to cover these over, perhaps with a facade of laughter or with a semblance of respectability? Are there ways you respond, perhaps with fear, or anger or intolerance that show these are festering? Perhaps there are things you need to confess or seek forgiveness for. Offer these up to God in prayer.
Now think of the light that has shone into those cracks. Where have you seen glimmers of God’s wholeness? What has it begun to give life to? Are you aware of green shoots emerging towards the sun? How could you nurture their growth and make help them to thrive?
At our local mall recently I noticed that what was once a solid concrete slab of parking slots has now been transformed. The pavement (imagine wall) had been broken down. Deliberate “cracks” have been added between the rows of cars – small gardens that channel the water into the topsoil and down into the water table are thriving. The rain no longer creates a flood of water that overflows the drains and clogs the waterways.
Sometimes when we stay close to the cracks we realize that they need to be nurtured and strengthened to rebuild the fabric of our lives and our society. And as we nurture these it is not only the surface life that thrives but it is the deep wellsprings of the water table that flourishes too.
What is your response?
Read through the prayer above again. What slabs of pavement are you aware of in your life and society that need to be broken up with gardens? What walls have you broken down then reconstructed? Is there something the spirit of God is prompting you to do that could help accomplish this?
Now listen to the song below and allow the spirit of God to stir your imagination. Is there another response God is asking of you?