The Wholeness Looks Different After You Have Been Broken

Good Friday 

The wholeness looks different after you have been broken 

My mum was hungry; she knew a deep hunger that never really went away. The children in the residential school were in danger, partly because horrible people made their way into the system to harm children. They were also in danger from benign neglect that was not being cared for and, more importantly, many of these children starved to death. Every bureaucrat who touched the money for food for the children took some, so the children starved. That was many children’s brokenness. 

The wholeness looks different after you have been broken 

I have carried my mother’s anxiety about not wasting food all my life. My mother never told me about starving children, she never told us about her hunger, she never told us about her brokenness. Perhaps she was happy she could provide food for the seven of us; perhaps every meal, some healing happened for her. Yet she never talked about it. 

I learned about hunger from my friend Steve, who was also a hungry kid. Never had enough food, and when he went to school the lunch program cost money and he could not pay. Often he sat in the lunch room and watched others eat. Occasionally he would watch kids complain about lunch, pick at it, and as they got ready to throw it out, he would say hey, I’ll eat that, and sometimes they would give him the sandwich, but most times, they would laugh and say you do not want this, nobody likes tuna sandwiches. And they would toss it out. He was a kid, so he did not say anything more. Steve is where I learned to listen to people when they ask for things. Steve was the guy who would say yes to help before anyone else, I think, because. 

That wholeness looks different after you have been broken 

We also have to be ready to hear it; perhaps my mum did talk about brokenness and things that were not right in her world. And perhaps I was not able to hear them from her. 

I want to be a better listener, I want to have others listen better too. My hope, my goal, is that I try and turn inward and deal with my broken parts and places where Christ is not. Good Friday is good for that. Those auto-destructive places where the innate goodness, the innate humanness of Christ, does not dwell in me. Or rather, the areas where Christ is not allowed to dwell within me because I am not fully who I am called to be. I/we need to know ourselves so we can live more fully and invite the wholeness of ourselves to overcome the broken. 

On this day, we get to try and change to live more fully. We do not have to live into the dark corners of our lives, feeling that the divine spark—that goodness, that richness of our lives—is gone. We instead get to see how we can transform and change the story on its head. Because then we get to change the story we tell ourselves; our brokenness, our unworthiness, we can look at it and let it go. It’s like holding broken glass; it seems so dangerous, and once we realize we can let it go, we do. 

Getting quiet is an amazing thing to do. Getting quiet allows us to seek out the parts of ourselves where god, goodness, love, and an orderly direction are not. In a very broken world, we learn that to change it, we must also change ourselves. And sometimes change the story. 

My sister’s knitting retreat:

  • Haida women 
  • Fair isle 
  • All find each other on the ferry 
  • A woman named Pam 
  • Oh no, really, I’m Haida 
  • My mum was born in Old Masset 
  • My mum was in St. Micheals 
  • So the three women called each other Cousins all weekend 
  • The next week, a phone call 
  • Pam’s mum knew my mum, and she came with food on Sundays 

That wholeness looks different after you have been broken 

Hearing that my mum brought food and fed the other kids gave me the other part of the story, that my mum was hungry and that my mum changed the story… 

We are called to change the story. We are called to look at it anew. Good Friday is full of difficult reading and hearing the Passion of Jesus Christ; it is not us just wallowing in the brokenness. It is something very different: it is a story of rebellion and change and reframing it all. 

That wholeness looks different after you have been broken. 

Nakashima Brock, a theologian who works with moral injury,

“Christianity that is true to the life of Jesus Christ tells his death as the story of resistance to the Roman Empire, not as the story of how the Empire enacted God’s will. Rome used crucifixion against non-citizens, the poor, and slaves. More like lynching than a formal execution, it began with horrible forms of torture designed to create a long, agonizing death over days. A quick death was a mercy. Bodies were left exposed to the elements and were devoured as carrion or rotted. Burials did not happen. It was so horrible a death that ancient writers, except for Seneca, were silent about it, and families of victims never spoke the names of the murdered again. 

The gospels constructed an innovative strategy to resist crucifixion. They rejected the terror that crucifixion instilled and told the story another way, against the grain of historical fact and with the grain of love and resistance. They reported that Jesus had no broken bones and died quickly. His friends removed him intact the day he died and buried him properly. They found him again in the garden, along the shore, breaking bread and telling them to continue his work. They experienced him as many people and cultures experience those they love who have died, as present still in visions, dreams, and rituals. These loving details said that Rome was impotent to erase Jesus from memory, to deny his humanity, or to end his work for justice, healing, and peace.”

This has become our work now. Amen