Broken & Beautiful

I heard a wise man say once that we should only keep those things in our life that are either useful or beautiful. Everything that is not useful or beautiful, we should toss out and not carry it with us.

Once I held something beautiful in my hands. I could turn it around, look at it, and from every angle, I saw the beauty. It was obvious beauty, something anyone could see at a glance.

One day, something happened and this beautiful item broke.

I was sad when it broke—hurt and angry that it broke, and I cried when I looked upon the damage that had been done to what was once so beautiful. While I could still see the glimmers of the beauty that was once there, it was no longer whole, and therefore, no longer the thing of beauty it was once.

Yet, I could not bring myself to throw it out, because I could recall, remember with startling clarity, the beauty that was once there.

So I keep it, though broken as it is, knowing it is no longer beautiful or useful to me, and I use it to remind myself of the beauty that was once. Some days the reminder makes me smile at the memory, and other days, the reminder makes me sad all over again for the knowing that it is no longer beautiful.

In keeping this broken memory, I find that this once-beautiful thing now sits on a shelf beside other things that are not broken, things that are still beautiful, still whole.

When people visit me, they do not see the beautiful things.

No, in fact, they always ask me, “What is this one doing here? It’s broken.”

Eventually, they will look past the one that is broken and say about the others, “Oh, how pretty.” Yet, even then, they come back to, “But if these are so pretty, why would you want this broken thing here next them?”

The broken item is no longer beautiful, and it taints the beauty of the things around it. Yet I still keep it on the shelf, as though it belongs with these beautiful things choosing to see it as a beautiful thing that it once was… but I am the only one who can remember it this way.

No one else saw this item when it was beautiful, so all they see are the broken pieces and wonder why I would choose to keep this amongst my beautiful things.

I try to hold the pieces up to the light so my visitors can see.

I try to show them how the broken pieces once fit together perfectly. I point out the gilding, the colors, the brightness that is still there beyond the broken pieces. I explain to my visitors just how gorgeous this broken thing was once, trying to draw a picture for them so that they can see how much beauty was once there, thinking this will make them understand, and that they too will see it as a beautiful thing.

But all they say is, “Yes, I can see that it was once beautiful.”

Then they softly and gently say to me, “But now it is broken.”

And alas, it is broken.

No matter how beautiful it once was, no matter how much I try to remember the beauty that was there—it is not there any longer—it is broken. I can either fix it or throw it away, but I simply cannot keep it sitting on the shelf next to all the beautiful things and continue to allow it to taint the beauty that is there.

If I do not repair it, if I do not remove it, it is taking up a space where something that is still beautiful, that is not broken, can reside in my life, my heart, my love, my soul.

So I pick up the pieces and I set them on my desk. I look closely and intently at them for a time. Can I repair this once-beautiful but broken treasure?

I begin to examine the pieces. Are they big enough to put back together? Can I make it whole again? Even if I do, will the memory of it having been broken always taint the beauty? Will the cracks in the surface be a reminder of the pain experienced when it shattered?

Can what has been broken ever be whole again?

Or do I cry my last tears over the loss of this once beautiful item and throw it away, cast it aside, allowing room for things to sit on the shelf and reside with the beauty that is there…?

If I do, I know that one day, I can put a new beautiful item there, not in place of this broken item, because nothing will ever be exactly the same or sit in the exact same place on this shelf of beautiful things… but to sit in the beauty nonetheless.

If I repair it, I will always be reminded it was broken, and that memory will definitely affect my perception of the current beauty. If I cast it away, eventually, the memory of how it was once so beautiful is all that will reside in me.

If I keep it here, broken as it is, I will only remember the fact that it was broken. If I let it go, eventually, the memory of how it was broken will fade, and I will once again be able to remember how beautiful it once was, grateful and thankful for the joy it once brought my life.

The decision seems to be an easy one, doesn’t it?

Trust me, my dear readers, it is not.

 

/excerpted from The Path, by Michelle Devon

 

 

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2 comments to Broken & Beautiful

  • Angela Parson Myers  says:

    Hmmm. Very deep. If you apply it to people, we all break eventually, yet I hope we don’t throw one another out because of it. In the case of people, we somehow must see beyond the cracks to the beauty that remains. In the case of objects, I suppose it’s a matter of whether the joy of memory or the pain of loss is greater. I have on a shelf in my bedroom a broken piggy bank that has been glued back together because it reminds me of the joy of my firstborn’s childhood. Another piggy bank, my second child’s, started out silver, but is now scratched and tarnished. I keep it also. Other broken items that evoke other memories have been tossed away, their memories not so precious.

  • Michy  says:

    (nodding) But I’m thinking in those moments, for those items, they are still beautiful to you… sometimes, though certainly not always, what was once broken can indeed be put back together again.

    Thank you so much for the comment!

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