Dec 13th to Dec 19th: 3rd Week of Advent – Becoming the Beloved, Part II

Reading: Becoming the Beloved, III. Broken, IV. Given (p. 85 to 125)

There is a mysterious link between our brokenness and our ability to give to
each other. . . . Our brokenness opened us to a deeper way of sharing
our lives and offering each other hope. Just as bread needs to
be broken in order to be given, so, too, do our lives. (p. 110)

Thanks to all for another incredible week of sharing! So many thoughtful, insightful, and touching reflections. It is a great blessing to be sharing this Advent journey with each of you. We have another fruitful week ahead so let’s get started.

What does it mean to live as the Beloved? This week we read, “Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others. . . beyond all our desires to be appreciated, rewarded, and acknowledged, there lies a simple and pure desire to give.” (p. 106) Henri is describing what Bishop Robert Barron calls, citing St. Pope John Paul II, the spiritual law of the gift. “Giving your your life away for love increases life within you. You partake in the flow of the divine life. Hence, happiness is found in loving acts.” And how does that happen? Last week we were learned we are taken (or chosen) and blessed. This week, Henri will help us to understand that as God’s Beloved, we are broken so that our life may given as a gift for others. As a result, “The fruitfulness of our little life, once we recognize it and live it as the life of the Beloved is beyond anything we ourselves can imagine.” (p. 122-3)

I found these two chapters to be particularly challenging with many ideas worth exploring. Here are several examples. After saying “. . . the suffering of which I am most aware on a day-to-days basis is the suffering of the human heart,” (p. 89) Henri offers a deeply personal insight into his own interpersonal addiction that led to his long depression. Later on, after telling us about how the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi (died 1226) is still alive today, Henri says, “death can, indeed, be chosen as our final gift of life” and he encourages us to make it so. You are invited to share and reflect on any ideas that touched your heart in our reading this week. As always, here are a few excerpts and questions you might consider. Please share to the extent you are comfortable.

  1. In the Western world, the suffering that seems to be the most painful is that of feeling rejected, ignored, despised, and left alone. (p. 89) Do you agree with Henri? Have you had this experience yourself? How did you handle it? What did you learn?
  2. The great secret of the spiritual life, the life of the Beloved Sons and Daughters of God, is that everything we live, be it gladness or sadness, joy or pain, health or illness, can all be part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity. (p. 96) Henri goes on to say that “. . . real care means the willingness to help each other in making our brokenness into the gateway to joy.” How have you helped someone on their journey? How were you helped on your journey? In both cases, how did this make you feel?
  3. (T)here is a mysterious link between our brokenness and our ability to give to each other. . . . Our brokenness opened us to a deeper way of sharing our lives and offering each other hope. (p. 109-110) Have you experienced this in your life or seen it in the lives of others? How did the brokenness lead to deeper sharing?
  4. We tend to forget that our real gift is not so much what we can do, but who we are. The real question is not “What can we offer each other?” but “Who can we be for each other?” (p. 113) How are you living this truth today? What changes might you consider in how you live your life as a gift?

Thanks again to everyone joining us in this Advent community, those posting and those following along in silence. We’re blessed by your presence and we look forward to another week together. Be safe and be well.

Peace and all good.

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47 Responses to Dec 13th to Dec 19th: 3rd Week of Advent – Becoming the Beloved, Part II

  1. Cindy Avenell says:

    While reading about Brokenness, I noticed that there so many negative feelings that linger each time we are hurt of broken. The list includes: despised, rejected, ignored, left alone, due to separation, neglect, abuse, emotional manipulation, that can possibly lead to paralysis, depression, punishment or even a curse.
    My question: Why is it that we so easily focus on the self-rejection rather than self-acceptance? H. Nouwen writes, “It is the joy of being disciplines, purified and pruned.” This is God’s sanctifying work in me. I thank God for His loving powerful work!

  2. Despite the fact I am a day late for this post, I had to write about our reading because it was profound. It struck a deep personal cord as I have been struggling with Covid for 3 weeks now. Even if no one reads this posting I felt called to write it for myself to see.

    First I want to summarize what Henri said in his chapter entitled ‘Broken:’ (85-103). I see two movements in this chapter. One describes brokenness (85-92) and the second sums up how to deal with brokenness (92-103).

    Describing it he says straightforwarly all of us are uniquely broken. The uniqueness of it informs the gifts we give others so we are to ‘claim’ brokenness. Beyond the brokenness of poverty, behavioral health issues and a dearth of basic resources is a unversal “broken heart” (89). This isolation can lead to false intimacy (sexuality) and self rejection in our longing for community.

    Dealing with our brokenness invites us to two movements: befriending it (92) and putting it under the blessing rather than the curse (95). To befriend it we must face brokkenss squarely rather than run away: “the first step to healing is not to step away from the pain but step toward it…” (93). This movement allows us to accept our humanity and be our true self, offering “real care” to others helping them see suffering as a “gateway to joy” (96).

    This gateway opens the door to see brokenness as a blessing rather than a curse. To perpetuate negative self talk that says “I aways suspected I was useless or worthless…” (96) is to yield to self’-rejection that (my words) makes us a victim not the Beloved. “The powers of darkness around this thinking is strong (97), so its critical to stand against it.

    Summing this up I was sitting across from my copy of Rembrandt’s “The Prodigal Son.” Looking at the painting I saw something deep and profound for the first time. I saw the older brother as the self-righteous who believe themselves better, the standing shadowy figure as the world watching in judgement and the kneeling figure as the false self of the Prodigal poised in self-rejection in his brokenness. Making the Father’s embrace a much more bold Blessing tented over the Prodigal’s shoulder protecting his Belovedness from the onslaught of other voices.

    Only in this place can I say with Leonard Bernstein ” I never recognized how broken glass could shine so brightly” (102). Thank you for having a space to write this down.

  3. Chaz says:

    A broken heart healed by God provides the gift to humanity of healing. When broken we cry out here I am Lord I have heard you calling in my brokenness and I need your help. I yield to you .I rest in you. I thank you for all your blessings and grace.We step toward our pain and now through grace our brokenness can be put under our blessing. Healed by God and his Angels on Earth we become a gift. We can BE for each other . Friendship, kindness, patience, joy , peace, forgiveness, love, hope, and trust. We can be healers because we were healed. Broken glass shines brightly. Our life’s are fulfilled by giving away our broken, healed, selfs to others. We thank God for this gift and we continue to live the true spiritual life. We know that everything we live is part of the journey toward the full realization of our humanity .

  4. Pat Schwimer says:

    These chapters touched me deeply particularly the pages in brokenness. As I approach my 75th birthday and reflect on my life. I have been blessed with so much grace to overcome brokenness. But I never thought much about blessing each time. I think I mentioned in my first post about my childhood home environment with a mother trapped by alcoholism. Shame and blame predominated
    I now have 2 adult sons, who were adopted as infants. The elder has disconnected with the family. It left me heartbroken he will not speak with his father or brother, occasionally will with me. I grieved for years, prayerfully reaching out. Fifteen years later I am achieving some acceptance even peace.
    The other situation was in my parish of 45 years. I was very active in leadership positions. A new pastor arrived. He subsequently falsely accused me of some serious things and I was ordered to not only step down from all ministries but to leave my faith home.
    I was crushed. It was such a challenge to my faith.
    I was broken. I now attend a different parish where I feel welcome but I am guarded about taking on any ministries.
    This Nouwen reflection has opened my heart. I am pondering ways to bless these burdens.
    I have discovered a beautiful prayer in the writings of Fr Mychal Judge, a NYC fire chaplain killed in World Trade Center on 9/11 rescuing victims
    Lord take me where you want me to go
    Let me see whom You want me to see
    Give me the words you want me to say
    And then help me stay out of your way
    This has been a daily mantra

    • Patricia Hesse says:

      Thank you, Pat. I will long remember this post.

    • Frank says:

      Hi Pat:
      I’m sorry to hear about your situations you have described.
      From the introductory posts it seems that you may be from MA. If so, I am aware of two Ecumenical Catholic communities in that state. If you wish you may write me and I can provide you with additional information.

      • Pat Schwimer says:

        Thank you for your warm offer Frank. I live in NYC a Jesuit parish has welcomed me, and they do not connect with the politics of the diocesan clergy.
        Iam so thankful to have been given the grace and strength to have the faith to work through this.

  5. Tim Nelson says:

    I’ve been wrongly shamed by others (mostly as a kid and teenager) and I have hurt others badly. I have made poor immature decisions trying to find out who I was as a “free spirit” and a later in scriptural legalism. I have often felt a yucky feeling as I remember myself at various times. Something has been happening more recently where I no longer have this feeling. I am able, more than before, to recognize that I was the Beloved then as I am now–to see myself more through God’s eyes.

    • Marybeth says:

      Hang in there Tim! We all have our “yucky” days (and years) for sure… but you’re on the right track now, as Henri says “Under the blessing”, and seeking healthy input to continue your spiritual journey. I always say God works in strange ways… he knows us all personally, and makes things in our life happen for what he knows will get us closer to Him. Keep up the Faith!! It works!

  6. Frank says:

    One of my daily mantras consist of saying and reflecting on:


    Oneness is my version of Richard Rohr’s (and others) non-duality. This is a state of consciousness where there is no “I” and “Other” but just One. (Note: I use Oneness instead on “non-duality” because I do not care to use a term like “non” in my prayers, reflection etc.) Non-duality is said to have originated within Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism and also Christian meditation. For me it is from practicing Centering Prayer (see Fr. Thomas Keating).

    Love is the cement that keeps us all together in this world. We are the Beloved and are instructed to love others as God has loved us. (Where I have heard that before?) But to really love others shouldn’t we love ourselves first? Not very easy to do. I wrote my term paper on this subject while studying at Notre Dame many years ago. I thought I had written a very good paper but my Professor believed I needed to have gone deeper. So, I did not get the grade I desired. (Actually a good outcome for my growth.)

    Forgiveness is a difficult practice when you have been shamed or judged quite harshly, like I have experienced so often in my career. But this practice is so necessary I believe. And again a very hard part is forgiving oneself. Over the years I have reflected on the many souls I needed to forgive one at a time which I have found helpful to soften my hardened heart.

    Blessings to all.

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Thanks, Frank, for the helpful reflections on these readings. I too follow Richard Rohr’s work, his books and daily meditations, and have recently been listening to the late Thomas Keating’s talks on YouTube.

      I like your daily mantra!

      • Cindy A says:

        I appreciate Frank’s mantra as well.
        And I am going to have to look for the Thomas Keating YouTube talks. I am a better audiolearner than only reading the words. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Christopher Ciummei says:

    “We are chosen, blessed, and broken to be given, not only in life, but in death as well. As the Beloved Children of God, we are called to become bread for each other—bread for the world.”

    I found this concept very interesting, as I am in my mid-30s now and often find myself worrying about the alleged legacy that I will leave behind. If my memory and deeds in this life can be used as a positive motivator for future generations in God, that would make me very happy indeed. The initial fear of death itself begins to fade as the ultimate cycle of God’s plan for humanity becomes clearer.

  8. Marybeth says:

    Reading this weeks chapters, the the lessons Henri teaches about moving toward our pain, fears, and suffering, as well as putting them under the blessing, really hit home for me. It makes me think of times in my life that I felt overwhelmed, lost, heartbroken, or confused… and somehow trusting in God’s Love and Protection, I got through it. Then looking back I could see that even though it was different than what I wanted, or thought was best for me, things turned out better, and it was unimaginable! God does have a Plan for me, and many times the hard times are meant for my growth, to become more accepting of the of the help that is there for me (as I usually want to be strong and do it all on my own), and probably more important, it gets me closer and more in Love with Him. As our experience with life goes on, it does get easier to see the good and bad in everything. Although broken at times, our spiritual journey goes on, and we learn that we are the Beloved, longing like Jesus to share that unending Love, the giving that comes through us from God…

    It brings back an image I often return to when things just don’t seem right or fair… and that is Jesus hanging on the cross arms outstretched holding the good and the bad of all the world… then trusting His life to God our Father… then Rising up again for the Love of all!!

    • Elaine M says:

      Marybeth, your commentary echoes a reflection question posed in Franciscan Media this week: “In what parts of your life are you trying to push away darkness instead of living with it as a teacher and transformer?” Your point about hindsight is so true. I wish I could have that kind of clear vision in the throes of the darkness and pain when I just want to “push it away.” Your final image of Jesus on the cross is a good reminder for me that pain can transform me too if I open my arms to it. To put it plainly, Jesus gets it.

      • Marybeth says:

        Thanks Elaine. I do believe the hindsight glimpsed, over time, helps to build the trust in our Belovedness as Henri explains…
        It gets a little easier to hold the tension of the difficulty in the midst of the Greater Plan for sure 🙂

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      Hi Marybeth,
      I also found Henri’s comments about facing our brokenness of particular importance. His call to face my brokenness “squarely and befriend it” (p. 92) and put it “under the blessing” (p. 96) is both a challenge to reflect upon deeply and an opportunity of incalculable value. As he cites from Bernstein’s Mass about the priest and the broken chalice: “I never realized that glass could shine so brightly” (p. 102).

      • Marybeth says:

        Thanks Barry. I think that shattered chalice’s brightness is the acceptance of God’s Reality!! Hard to imagine from times of feeling broken, but He will shine through the worst of times, if I
        can trust and let go… often time hard, but worth it in the end 🙂

  9. Patricia Hesse says:

    Flow Blue is a type of porcelain that originated in the Victorian era in England. The name is derived from the blue glaze designs or patterns that blurred or “flowed” onto the bone white china during the firing process. The china was rejected and cheaply sold to those, for whom owning china was a dream. I’d never heard of Flow Blue until shortly after I was married. My mother gave me the three remaining pieces of my Great Grandmother’s Flow Blue china that had been carefully stored in the top of her closet. I cherished the china and gave it a special place in my home as a new bride.

    Years passed. Our two daughters were now teenagers. Life was filled with a house full of girlfriends, makeup all over the bathroom, the occasional girl drama, and a bunch of craziness. It was on one of those occasions, “it” happened.

    Most people believe that an airplane is something that flies in the sky and takes passengers to far away vacation spots; however, “Airplane” has another meaning. I was upstairs dust mopping the hallway when I heard laughter become a loud crash followed by cries from the living room –cries which could only be interpreted as cries of anguish, coming from my oldest daughter and her best friend. I ran down the stairs expecting to see blood, but when I looked at the faces of those two girls I saw unbelief and dilated pupils. They suddenly became mute and stared at me without blinking until my daughter glanced to her right, taking my gaze with her. There, pushed up against the window and lying on its side, was my library table and in front of it, on the carpet, lay my Flow Blue china in pieces. I couldn’t speak. I felt my eyes sting as they filled with tears, unable to take in the words of apologetic horror spilling from those two girls –I seem to remember wondering if I saw tears in their eyes as well, or if I was only seeing them through the watery lens of my own.

    My daughter had been lying on her back on the living room floor with her legs extended straight up at a right angle to her body. Her friend, the “Airplane,” was balancing, with her stomach positioned on the bottom of my daughter’s feet and her body parallel to the floor –her arms and legs extended. My daughter served as the engine providing the Airplane’s lift into the air by moving her legs back and forth. It seems the “Airplane” encountered turbulence as the flight took a wild turn which literally sent it air-born straight into the table. I don’t remember what I said to them, but I do remember getting the wastebasket and a broom and then seeing the small pieces of cobalt and white lying at the bottom.

    Several days went by, and with each day I managed to think a little less about the loss of my Flow Blue. My daughter spent her time after school upstairs in her bedroom probably anticipating a return lecture on acting your age. Then one afternoon I came in from a teacher’s meeting, and there on the dining room table sat a lop-sided Flow Blue covered bowl and gravy boat and next to them a letter. As I reached down to pick up the letter I could easily see the cracks in the Flow Blue filled with glue and the holes where pieces were too small to glue back in place. The letter read: “Dear Mom, I am so sorry for breaking your dishes. I know how important they were to you. I took the pieces out of the wastebasket and have been working in my bedroom after school trying to put them back together. I know it doesn’t look very good. I’d give anything if it had never happened. I love you.” The tears ran down my face.

    Today I cherish my Flow Blue even more than I did before. When I see it, I still imagine my Great Grandmother’s hands touching it as she sets it out for a special dinner …and I see my daughter’s hands.


    I think often about the broken Flow Blue and the love that kept it from being lost forever. As I read this chapter, that memory and its lessons returned as it often does. I see the Father, putting us back together when we give up on ourselves, for we are His beloved and beautiful in his eyes. We are cherished.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      Thank you for sharing this priceless story. It’s a blessed Advent gift to us all.

    • Cary upshaw says:

      What a beautiful true life illustration. Thanks for sharing.

    • Irene says:

      How beautiful, Patricia. It makes me think how powerful our love for one another can be….Thank you for sharing.

    • Cathy Kalverda says:

      Patricia – thank you for sharing your story. Funny how so often a story can open our minds and hearts to a greater truth. And this story shows how something broken can bring more precious possibilities than if it had never been broken. I am not a fan of experiencing brokenness or seeing it in myself but I have also had the experience of getting to the other side and being able to love myself and others more fully. We really are a broken dish being held in the palm of God’s hand.

      • Patricia Hesse says:

        I can honestly say that I, too, am NOT a fan of experiencing brokenness; but sadly, I pray much more when I’m broken than when I think I have everything under control, and life is good.

    • Cindy A says:

      Wow! This made me want to cry. It’s a vivid reminder of God’s rescue, forgiveness, and powerful love that keeps our broken pieces together. Thank you for sharing about your Flow Blue.
      By the way, you are blessed to have a daughter that loves you that much to try to make amends with you. Way to go, Mom!

    • Colleen stang says:

      Omg what a beautiful story which has brought me to tears! What a blessing your daughter gave you by recognizing the pain she caused you and the effort she put in to “fix” both the hurt and the dish! What a “significant affirmation” of her love and respect for her Mother- you. Thank you for sharing the story of Flow Blue.

  10. Eddie Dunn says:

    Rejected? Oh, as never before, 38 years ago when my wife of 20 years divorced me! I’ll never forget the night I came closest to hurting myself, or worse, in the depths of despair! But God wouldn’t let me go! Before that long night ended I found myself face down on the floor of my tiny apartment, learning a lesson that has undergirded my life ever since! I no longer was sure of all the things I believed in except one solitary thing: I was God’s child, and that would be enough for me to get up from that place of darkness and go forward! Beloved, oh, yes, and feeling this as never before!

    • Elaine M says:

      Eddie, thank you for your courage in sharing this painful experience with us as a powerful lesson in letting go and letting God lead the way in love. How wonderful that you have been able to go forward.

    • Irene says:

      Amen. Thank you for sharing, Eddie.

    • Barry Sullivan says:

      I will add my thanks for sharing this painful experience and the need for all of us to remember that we are God’s Beloved!
      Thanks very much

    • Cindy A says:

      I am thankful that God held onto you, and you clung to Him through that painful rejection. Thank you for reminding all of us of God’s love through the darkness and brokenness of rejection.

  11. Sharon K. Hall says:

    The reading and sharing during this Advent season have been a great blessing to me. I have mailed this book to my daughter and son-in-law as a Christmas present. Both have not found their place in a congregation though both are baptized and were confirmed. I believe Henri Nouwen’s writing will be encouraging to them and they won’t be offended by my act as being “too pushy”. The point I am most thinking about is number 4. The real question is not “what can we offer each other?” but “Who can we be for each other?” I have had to find out in a very painful way that the branch of Protestantism I belong to can swing back and forth, coming closer to Catholicism or moving farther from Catholicism. No doubt due to the way it was formed coming out of the Reformation. It’s been a real shock to my system. Currently my congregation has a transitional Pastor. One has to be careful about how one perceives interpersonal relationships–projections and all that–but I have a strong feeling that she doesn’t really like me but at the same time would like to talk to me, maybe to argue with me or something. She makes a lot of changes to the liturgy and stuff like that. Normally, I’ve been used to getting along with clergy and the mediation they do for me but this brokenness has been very spiritually and emotionally hard for me to deal with. Maybe for her too. I have a hard time knowing what all is involved and what my repentence needs to be, whether reconciliation can happen, etc., etc., etc. Now she is in the hospital with COVID-19, and has been on a ventilator but I believe she is getting better though the word is her recovery will be a long haul. But Henri Nouwen wrote something very profound to me, “It is only when we have died that our spirits can completely reveal themselves. Murray and Pauline were both beautiful people, but they were also people whose ability to love was limited by their many needs and wounds. Now, after their deaths, the needs and wounds that kept their spirits captive no longer inhibit them from giving their full selves to us. Now they can send us their spirits, and we can live in a new communion with them.” Whatever happens to any of us, it is comforting to believe that new communion can happen now but also after death and despite all the fears and insecurities and lack of courage we may display in relating to each other some times, that our needs and wounds won’t always keep our spirits captive and inhibit us from giving our full selves to each other. Henri Nouwen can truly express wisdom of faith in words very diverse peoples of today can receive in life-changing ways!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Betty says:

    As I reread my reply to you, I realized that the tone was not what I intended. I guess that I was trying to communicate that I identified with the sense of “brokenness” about which you had written. Rather than saying that directly, my comments seemed to lack empathy, for which I would like to apologize. I hope that I did not offend you.

    • Ray Glennon says:

      No you didn’t offend me at all. In fact, I was grateful for the opportunity to share my story about how the Yoda and Luke interaction in the scene from Empire Strikes Back related to me accepting (or not) my Belovedness.

      Friends—Betty’s comment is related to comments we shared last week. To see them, navigate back by clicking on the appropriate link in the right hand column at the top of this page.


  13. Rick Strong says:

    This chapter on Brokenness took me a long time to read this week. Not because it was a hard read but because it stopped me as I read each page. I contemplated the thoughts of Henri and how they spoke to me. I would stop and re-read the page again to let those thoughts soak in. “The experience of being broken is a very personal experience. . . We human beings can suffer immense deprivation with great steadfastness, but when we sense that we no longer have anything to offer to anyone, we quickly lose our grip on life.” (p. 72 in my 1993 copy). We measure our worth by what we have to offer others. What we can DO. Doing can give us value and make us feel worthy.
    When we feel our brokenness and the pain and suffering it brings to us, Henri says, “that our first response to our brokenness (should be) to face it squarely and befriend it. Our first, most spontaneous response to pain and suffering is to avoid it, to keep it at arm’s length; to ignore, circumvent or deny it.” (p. 75). I do this most of the time. It feels wrong to befriend it, but healing can only come to us through facing our fears, pain and suffering. If we ignore it or turn away from it, we only let it grow bigger and take over our life.
    Henri says that our brokenness can be a curse to us or a blessing. If we allow it to grow and take over, we let it confirm our fears and we develop a negative feeling about ourselves. Henri says,” I always suspected that I was useless and worthless, and now I am sure of it because of what is happening to me. There is always something in us searching for an explanation of what takes place in our lives and, if we have already yielded to the temptation to self-rejections, then every form of misfortune only deepens it.” (p.78). According to Henri we need to live our brokenness as a blessing. Take it out of “the shadow of the curse and under the light of blessing. . . When we keep listing attentively to the voice calling us the Beloved, it becomes possible to live our brokenness, not as a confirmation of our fear that we are worthless, but as an opportunity to purify and deepen the blessing that rests upon us.” (p.79). The scripture that came to mind for me was this passage from Matthew eleven. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (verses 28-30). Jesus promise to us as the Beloved in our brokenness is to live into our brokenness and let Jesus take on our fears, pain and suffering as he did when he died for us on the Cross and rose to new life. Henri says, “True joy can be experienced in the midst of great suffering.” (p. 80).
    Henri is telling us that we need to live through our brokenness and experience the fear, suffering and pain as Christ did. Through this living we can come to true joy. We can find rest for our soul as the Beloved.

    • Cindy A says:

      I LOVE the Matthew 11:28-30 verses! I agree that when we are broken in spirit, we can easily grow weary or tired of living. But Jesus offers us true rest and peace, so that we can walk forward with Him in joy because He loves us.
      Lord, please shine down your light on our brokenness, so that we can be with you in joy.

  14. Elizabeth Collins says:

    Thanks for the following, “This is not about your attempt to show that you are Super Girl; this is a chance for you to surrender your show of independence and to receive the gift those students are trying to give you. Don’t deny them that joy.”.
    So often we let our pride prevent us to receive love and others to give love.

  15. Ray Glennon says:

    Yesterday several thoughtful comments were added to the post from last week. If you haven’t seen them, they are available here ( or by navigating back to the he post for t2nd Week of Advent in the Recent Posts list in the right hand column at the top of the page.
    Blessings, Ray

  16. Elaine M says:

    “ I never realized that broken glass could shine so brightly” (Life of the Beloved, p. 102)

    Funeral rituals serve so many purposes. Seldom have I been so single-minded, so focused, so other-centered as when I have been in charge of planning a funeral– making plans to ensure that a loved one will be honored, that others will find consolation and joy in raising up the memory of that loved one and in the communal sharing of both grief and joy. It feels productive, uplifting, perhaps a way to give meaning to what otherwise might seem to be a death that is senseless in its suffering or prematurity. My eulogies for my mother, father, and younger sister may possibly (hopefully) be among the best writings I have ever done. Surprisingly just after I delivered a eulogy for my sister, one of my brothers, who had risen to deliver yet another testimonial to this life well lived, also reminded us to offer the same kinds of words of loving recognition to those with whom we still share our earthly lives.

    I thought about my brother’s words as I wrote a little legacy book for my two teen-aged grandchildren as we began sheltering in place this spring. Yes, I recounted my childhood foibles and fun facts about growing up in a bygone era, but at many junctures the book became a reflection of the light shining through in times of brokenness: watching my adult daughter feed my mother, in hospice care in our home, the same baby food that my mom had once fed her as an infant; the joy of the birth of a niece exactly one year after her sister had been stillborn; clinging to one another during the time of pandemic.

    Brokenness can teach humility, perspective, graciousness, empathy, and gratitude. One day at the school where I taught, there I was with my broken arm in a neon pink cast, attempting to carry a stack of textbooks from the storage room to the classroom. As I politely turned down a number of offers to carry the books for me, a friend stepped out of her classroom to offer these words of wisdom: “This is not about your attempt to show that you are Super Girl; this is a chance for you to surrender your show of independence and to receive the gift those students are trying to give you. Don’t deny them that joy.”

    To much of the world, the residents of Daybreak appear to have been born with broken bodies or broken minds, but Henri, the esteemed Ivy League professor, found that they could shine brightly and could show Henri the light. Life is full of broken arms and broken hearts. Can I accept that helping hand in my brokenness? Can I take every opportunity to extend that helping hand to others? Can we all find wholeness in our common brokenness?

    • Betty says:

      I have found in my life, it is often easier to give than to receive; maybe because “giving”seems to offer me more joy. However, I recognize more and more that by receiving, I am deconstructing a self-image that is built on a sense of being fully independent. I believe that this is God’s way of increasing my humility, an essential step in moving from the False to the True Self.

      • Christopher Ciummei says:

        Betty, I appreciate your giving spirit! Our world needs more of us these days! 🙂

      • Rodney Page says:

        Elaine, I stand accused – Guilty! I enjoy giving immensely, and with great joy!!! Yet, at 72 years of age, I’m in the infant stages of learning to receive. It is not easy. Independence, Humility, and Worth are all ingredients in this dilemma.

        Thanks for sharing!

    • Christopher Ciummei says:

      Elaine, I feel you on this as well. Broken glass still shines brightly, but it takes all of those pieces coming together to make a singular beauty of many individual parts. Parallel that to our human condition, and we have a positive rubric to work from. 🙂

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