“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places”

– Ernest Hemingway

Most of us are broken, wounded or hurt in some enduring way.

I love Hemingway’s assertion that we can be strong in the broken places. 

It reminds me of Leonard Cohen’s famous line in his song Anthem

“Forget your perfect offering,
there is a crack, a crack in everything –
that’s how the light gets in…”

We cannot avoid pain – it’s an essential element in our inner guidance system. We need it.  How we relate to our pain, on the other hand, is a different story.

I can constrict with pain, brace against it, resist, fight, deny or repress it – but each of these simply leaves me more brittle, more rigid, more fearful, more guarded, more disconnected, more isolated.  

More than ever, I find my ability to feel into it, to sit with the discomfort, to track the sensations moving through me is a foundational part of living a courageous and loving life.

For me, the trick has been in learning how to have a loving relationship with pain – whether it’s connected to fear, grief, anger, helplessness or shame. 

My inner journey continues to be be about relaxing into life on its terms, cultivating love and finding beauty in all of it.

It’s no wonder then that I have been so drawn to contemplating the Japanese philosophy of Wabi Sabi a philosophy that encourages us to embrace imperfection and to find beauty in the imperfections to find the beauty in what is messy, broken, old – and more specifically of Kintsugi, or Golden Repair the art of repairing broken cups, plates and pottery with gold. 

Each broken and cracked object is put back together using gold dusted epoxy and lacquer – making the objects whole, more beautiful and more valuable than before.

We are like this.

Cracked and broken, we are also healed and made whole again with the golden balms of compassion, understanding, truth and love. 

When our brokenness and pain gets met with the illuminating beams of love, truth, compassion and understanding, we become stronger and more beautiful than we were before.

Deep change doesn’t come about because of clever treatments, scientific evidence, moralism or rules.

When we are judged, berated, imposed upon, forced to do something, manipulated or lied to … we tighten up, we constrict, we resist. Pain increases.

Deep change is a side effect of deep, gentle, compassionate relationships that inspire us to reach for our highest potential, on our own terms.

Healing needs a gentle, discerning hand, not forceful demands.

When we are loved, we awaken.
When we are loved, we change.
When we are loved, we heal.
When we are loved, our hearts open.

Brokenness is necessary for illumination.
Cracks let the light in.
Melt the barriers in your heart.

Practice love.

Now it’s your turn …. I’d love to hear from you:

  • Have you been made more beautiful and stronger by painful experiences in your life?

  • Embrace imperfections in yourself and others?

  • What gets in your way? What helps?

    Leave a comment below …