At table with them, he took bread,
blessed and broke it and gave it to them.
Then their eyes were opened …
Ten years after a horrific genocide
I was privileged to visit the rolling hills of Rwanda,
still reeling and dealing with trauma.
I visited a humble pottery project
bringing together people
from both poles of the conflict;
one among many
fostering healing through reconciliation.
Just souls are in the hands of the Holy One,Wisdom 3:1
where torment no longer touches them.
A simple earthen hut
boasted a modest array
of handmade pots.
Mud-spackled potters took pains to explain
how they fashioned coiled bowls by hand
from local, blood-red clay.
These they blackened
with charcoal ash
before placing them in a brick oven.
In their time of visitation, they will glow,Wisdom 3:7
running like sparks through stubble.
They cautioned visitors
that these were fragile vessels,
manufactured for decoration not utility.
A small recess,
held stacks of
cracked and crumbling bowls.
had fissured in the firing.
Destined to be crushed, re-formed, re-fired.
Like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hands.Jeremiahs 18:6
Handling these broken receptacles,
I noticed their lacework of fractures
that surely made them brittle.
In these dark
I beheld beauty.
Chipped and broken,
to be handled with care.
Blessed to be broken, destined for disintegration,
their story had not yet ended.
They were marked to be remade, and thus to be mended.
Ring the bells that still can ringLeonard Cohen
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
I carried back
a trio of black,
hand-sized seconds, fractured in the fires of Rwanda.
Despite careful wrapping,
they crumbled further
on the homeward journey.
They have since,
known more degeneration,
and been crudely reassembled.
This has made them
ever more appealing;
honestly humble crockery, whole in holey-ness.
In clay jars we carry this treasure, making clear the surpassing power is sourced not in us, but in the Holy One. Though in every way hard-pressed, we are not completely crushed; anguished, not driven to despair; persecuted, never forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed …2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Like the lovely, scarred souls of Rwanda
In the years that followed,
I was heart-broken and repaired;
put back together, not quite the same.
Those leaky vessels
reveal in incompleteness
that we are conduits, not containers of light and love.
While breaking pains,
and hurts as it remakes us.
Broken open, not broken down,
with chinks for light to get in and love to get out,
they become an earthy icon of holey-ness.
Only those who know they are broken can know healing.
May you not recoil
from shining a light on your own
losses, let downs, and stumbling failures.
For we are not fashioned for utility,
nor merely for display.
Brittle are we formed, to crack and crumble, and holey be remade.