If you were a visitor from another planet, you might not recognize the broken glass in this picture. You might simply admire without interpretation the shiny gleam, the translucent shades of grey, the sharply hewn edges, and pieces so precisely crafted that they could be assembled like a puzzle and formed into a beautiful and useful shape. In other words, you might see it as something other than simply a broken drinking glass.
The glass pictured here is the first casualty in our new dining room. During the unpacking of our glassware last Thursday, the day of our move, this glass hit the floor. Later that day, during our first dinner in our beautiful new dining room, I looked around at the other diners, my Sisters. I saw a new dining room, but the same diners, the same motley crew that ate breakfast in the old dining room that morning. We were the same folk with the same struggles and troubles that go with being human and breakable…just like we were in our old dining room.
Our new dining room is gleaming, beautiful, finely wrought. And even with broken glass and spilled milk, so are the diners. And so are all God’s children, each created in His image. But when we look at one another, sometimes we only see the troubles and miss the gleam, the beauty, the finely wrought edges, and the delicate pieces so finely hewn. We see the other, but do not behold.
“I am like a shattered dish,” wrote the Psalmist in Psalm 31, in an image that probably all of us can relate to. Yet beauty persists, because the transfiguring work of Christ lends beauty to even our failures and frailties.
On the eve of Epiphany, as I bring to Jesus my finest gifts, I want to also gather the shattered fragments of my life. These, too, are gifts to bring. And as I journey toward the east, as one from another land, I want to shed interpretation and simply behold the Christ child wherever He may be born, even in shattered places. I want to see the gleam that shines like the star in the east, leading toward the Christ who dwells in us in transfiguring love.
Postscript: If you haven’t seen the photos of our new dining room and kitchen on our Community News web page, I encourage you to click on the link. It truly is a beautiful space, and yes, filled with Sisters who are beautiful, each in her own unique way.