Faces on Faith: Surgeons aren’t the only ones who can mend broken bones
Quite awhile ago, an intriguing essay by David Brooks caught my eye. The title was “The Broken Society” and was all about how we in the United States have become “more fragmented, dysfunctional, disempowered, and isolated.” Not a critique new to any nation at any particular time in history – human societies seem to go through these gyrations of focusing on community building and less fragmentation, to places of individualism and personal gain.
I happened to be with some people that same week who had also read the article and were impacted in a serious and sad way. Their family lives were replete with concerns and struggles with illnesses, issues with adult children still trying find their way, and two grandchildren with serious emotional disorders. They also had no extended family nearby, nor were they involved with any faith community. They already felt isolated, fragmented and disempowered in their dealings with insurance companies, therapists, doctors and attorneys and the Brooks essay seemed to take them to an even more disempowered, isolated, and hopeless place.
If we’re not spiritually and emotionally vigilant, concerns such as this couple had, can drive any of us to some very sad, lonely and hopeless places. We know we’re all “broken” and we’re always works in progress; however, sometimes the brokenness can just take over all other aspects of life and blind us to hope. Brokenness permeated both Hebrew Scripture and the Christian New Testament and has invaded our souls since we populated the planet.
However, as people of faith, we need to recall that God, your Higher Power – or whatever you refer to as that essence beyond our understanding – meets us in those broken places. For Christians, Christ has met us in the most broken place of all – the most shattered, disempowered, and isolated place of all – at the cross. At the cross on a lonely hillside in Palestine over 2000 years ago.
And in the knowledge God is with us in all our broken places, and that with suffering often comes the opportunity for us to step aside from fragmentation and isolation and to help one another open that door toward hope, connectedness, and healing, I think the spiritual and emotional bones of a society can begin to knit themselves back together.
Are we a broken society? I’m not so sure about that at all. Do we have broken places in our individual hearts and souls that necessitate healing, and that can negatively impact a society? Yes. Have we been offered a way forward from the crosses and pains in our lives – from isolation to community building? From disempowerment to engagement? Absolutely.
The Prophet Isaiah was inspired by God to offer people new hope in their despair. He proclaimed, “I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it?” And how can we forget the Prophet Ezekiel promising people that God would cause flesh to come upon those dry and broken bones and breathe new life into them! As we continue to walk into spring with the vernal equinox already two months past, perhaps we could be more attentive to the “broken bones” around us – in friend, family, or stranger – discover some surgical suturing of the soul, and create possibilities for mending where new hope and growth will spring forth!