Brokeness and Beauty portrayed through a song and a book

Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts?Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts. So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mess, And to stop the muscle that makes us confess.

Today I went to coffee with Carrie and we talked about Middlemarch . I keep thinking about this book – it is really one of the best books I’ve ever read and I think it will stay with me in my thoughts often for years to come. Today we were talking about the end of the book and the overall story and we talked a little bit about the contrast between some of the characters. I started thinking about this a little more and I had some interesting thoughts… all of the main characters where broken in some way – their lives weren’t what they thought, there’s spouses weren’t who they thought they were, their dreams where broken, and their relationships were broken in some way… but they each responded to that brokenness in VERY different ways – some choose to humble themselves and seek reconciliation, to confess their sins and hearts, some choose to set aside their own struggles and disappointments and instead work for someone else’s good – to help someone else. But, others choose to hold onto their pride and hid from others and fight to get their own way and protect themselves instead of someone else. Each struggled with their choice, each had their own inner dialogue about how they would respond to the disappointments and injustices in their lives as well as the outright sin in their lives, but they didn’t all come to the same conclusions. The human soul is indeed capable of great goodness and selflessness, but it is also capable of great ugliness and sin and sometimes the difference between the two comes down to simple daily chooses.

And we are so fragile, And our cracking bones make noise, And we are just, Breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys

It was interesting to me too that each characters decision to either embrace their selfishness and pride or give it up on behalf of another affected each other character. Our actions are never truly independent of each other – our lives are interwoven. We have the capability to break those around us or to build them up. We have the ability to influence the lives of the people around us in profound ways by simply being there for each other, listening to each other, believing in and trusting each other. There is one character in the book who starts out with these grand desires to do some great good in the world, but at least according to her original desires she never really does. But, in simply being herself, humble and open and willing to help those around her, she ends up having a profound influence on those around her perhaps without even realizing it. That is encouraging for me. We are fragile creatures and we do easily hurt and break each other, but we can also do much to mend and repair the brokenness in each other’s lives.

“Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixtures behaves under the varying experiment of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? … The child pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa’s passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many-volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her? Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self-despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self… That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherin there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action… With dim lights and tangled circumstances they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness…Their ardour alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse… Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heart-beats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances, instead of centering in some long-recognisable deed.” “Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful. They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion. For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it… we insignificant people with our daily words and acts are preparing the lives of many Dorotheas, some of which may present a far sadder sacrifice than that of the Dorothea whose story we know. Her finely-touched spirit had still its fine issues, though they were not widely visible. Her full nature, like that river of which Cyrus broke the strength, spent itself in channels which had no great name on the earth. But the effort of her being on those around her was incalculable diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”


 Rejoicing in the journey - Beth Stedman