Posts Tagged ‘brokenness’


May 20, 2018

(Originally written 9/30/14. The grandson mentioned here is almost 7 now.)

Why is being consciously concerned about leaving a legacy important? Why does it even matter?

The only answer that even works is love.

A hundred years from now, who will remember me personally? No one, most likely. A century later, if any of us exist at all in anyone’s consciousness, it is as a name on a building plaque or tombstone or in a genealogy. Nothing remains. Anonymous dust. (Since I plan to be cremated, there won’t even be the tombstone in my case.)

So why bother caring? For the same reason that, in that unthinking heartbeat, without batting an eyelash, we would lay down our lives for the grandson we are taking to the museum. He matters that much.

True, he probably won’t be around in that same hundred years, but leaving him something significant, consciously, may make it easier for those he transmits his legacy to. Someone has transmitted their legacy, even if only genetically, to get me here, and others have transmitted culture, knowledge, and sustainability to get us all here. So somehow, it matters.

We have to love enough to leave a legacy. The only legitimacy legacy can claim is caring enough to make it happen. Deep inside, in our core, we care, enough to want it to matter. So we strive to leave something behind.

I can remember crying in my early school days, asking my dad—in my own mind— why he had had to leave me. (He committed suicide when I was 3.) But sometimes a clarity would come in, that perhaps he had left me more by leaving me—I had social security and veteran benefits for school that I would not have had otherwise. And who knows what negative memories I was spared? Maybe in leaving me, he loved me more than even he knew. I still pray for him—that is part of his legacy in leaving.

We have to love our past adequately in order to value the future. The continuity needs to be established. It took me until I was age 60 to track back past my father’s father’s name, age, and residence listed on my dad’s birth certificate. I found a brokenness in the life of his father—my great-grandfather—that explained it. He had killed his mother accidentally at age 17, and died when his son was 12. That son, my grandfather, never married my grandmother, leaving more brokenness. (My father’s birth certificate says they were married, but I’m almost certain that was a cover-up, based on other genealogical clues.)

But out of all those brokennesses, and a multitude of others, the mosaic of my life is pieced together. I have to try to step back enough to discern the picture. And even then, I only catch glimpses of glory.

But I care enough to try to leave it for my son and daughter, for their daughters, and for this grandson who is not even my flesh and blood. He may never read this, but it matters to me. I love that much.

LEGACY 5: Brokenness and Wholeness

May 13, 2018

(Originally written 9/16/14)

Brokenness is not necessarily a bad thing. It started out that way, obviously. We weren’t intended to be broken. But brokenness brought redemption, and resulted in wholeness again. Humpty Dumpty COULD be put together again, but it took a greater brokenness.

Wholeness—also called integrity—is related to holiness, though perhaps not by etymology (another mellifluous word). We get whole from being broken, but not necessarily by being broken. Being broken doesn’t automatically lead to wholeness. It’s not a given.

But it can be given, if we’re willing to take it. We have to make a preemptive strike against the brokenness in order to enter into wholeness. We have to visualize what it can mean to be whole. We have to desire it in order to make it happen.

And then, marvel of marvels, we can again choose brokenness to bring about someone else’s wholeness. That too is not a given, but it can be a giving. It has to be received, even if not consciously, in order to lead to wholeness in the other. Life springs out of the womb, broken open. Yeats speaks of it in a clouded way in “The Second Coming,” but I’m not sure his vision was truly of imminent (immanent?) wholeness, but rather of greater brokenness.

It’s easier to break than to make whole. It’s more tempting to destroy than to build. Building takes a lot of work, a vision of what could be, and it’s easier not to think of that and to think that tearing down is a good thing. It can be, but more often is not. Razing does not always lead to raising.

It takes deep foundations for skyscrapers, deeper still for rocket launching pads. The higher you go, the deeper you have to go first.

How much are we willing to break in order to build? How high do we really want to go?

The greatest man who ever lived never wrote anything apart from a few scribblings in the sand, waiting for breakers to stop trying to break. Yet more has been written about him, and because of him, that anyone except he would have imagined. He was broken beyond measure, in order to bring a wholeness of incomparable magnitude.

And he was a purveyor of paradoxes—die in order to live, lose in order to gain, hate in order to love.

I once had an enemy literally save my life. How paradoxical is that? I learned something there—there is value in what we despise.

How we define something in language determines its value to us. Let’s let the Word break us into wholeness.

Connectivity and Fractalization in Our Society

August 29, 2012

It seems to me that perhaps the greatest longing of our current culture is connectedness and connectivity. When I first thought of this, I wasn’t sure why two words, but as I tried to parse them out, I found that for me, connectedness would mean the feeling of being connected or the hope that becoming connected is possible, whereas connectivity would mean the ability to become connected. It might be that having the hope of connecting does not automatically ensure the possibility of making connections—communication requires more than simply transmitting; there must be reception, decoding, and return transmission for true communication to take place. Similarly, there must be those with who desire the kind of communication we are broadcasting and who would (and do) find such communication mutually rewarding.

Our society has become so fragmented and fractured that we are truly a broken people. We are broken (in more ways than one, including being broke and sometimes bankrupt in multiple ways beyond simply financial), and by and large, we don’t know how we’re broken or how to “fix” it. It may even be that our society is fractalized, that there are patterns emerging within or from our brokenness, but we are unable to see the patterns, to believe in them, or to utilize them.

And to be honest, I don’t have answers to these musings—just more questions arising in my mind. But I have to be careful how I phrase the questions, because our perception of what is or of what is possible (the old “half-full or half-empty” question) affects how we process, and ultimately, how we live: If we see something as futile, we despair, while if we see possibilities, we hope; we become cynical, or we begin to build; we curse, or we bless. And in this respect, if in no other, we place ourselves in control of our destinies, and are judged (even if only by the outcomes) for our actions.

For me personally, the negative course is a losing proposition, and my belief is that it is so for others also. I turn 60 in a week (it’s almost September 2012), and for decades I yearned for connection, and found it in some limited relationships (but then, all relationships by definition are limited, aren’t they?). It seems in the past 5 years, I have come further in far more satisfying ways than I ever imagined. I am arriving at a peace with myself, within my relationships with family, friends, and my God (in three different multi-faceted relationships: God as Creator/Father, as Jesus [Son/elder brother/groom/etc.], and as Holy Spirit [friend/counselor/advocate/etc.]), a greater peace than I have never known. And I find joy coming alongside, sneaking up on me, even in hard times as I learn that relationship is more important than problem-solving. All of this is refreshing, and I find I want more. I become enthusiastic, or to use the term one friend loves, exuberant. In the process, it creates within me a thankfulness, and a desire to share the joy and the insights. And so, I write, and blog, and share.