The Grace of Broken Things

I have an unmistakable and undeniable “tell.” A message that always shakes me out of my busyness and makes me face the fact that I'm doing too much, moving too fast, and overburdening myself.

My tell? I break things. A month after quitting my cushy corporate job I broke my tailbone (yeah, that was fun), running around and stressing myself out while on vacation. When we moved to a new home I broke glass after glass after glass trying to multitask while cooking something and emptying the dishwasher. 

And just the other day, I broke one of my prize ceramic possessions from a local Persian potter. And I was pissed.

What the hell?! I thought. But a moment later, two things popped into my head that made me laugh.

First off, my uncle used to call me “Grace” as a child, as a joke. I was a clumsy one. And it was kind of funny that wherever I went, I left a small train of destruction via spills, trips, etc. I audibly laughed to myself remembering this. 

And secondly, I once heard Sharon Salzberg tell a story about how she knew her meditation practice was starting to work. She dropped something at a retreat and it ended up shattering all over the floor. And in her mind this is what she heard – “That was really stupid of you Sharon…But I love you.”

What if our broken or clumsy moments could be ones of the utmost love and affection for ourselves – even as they wake us up from our mindlessness? 

Just the other day my adorable little 2 year old nephew Abe broke a favorite rose quartz pyramid and a lovely little string of bells hung over the fireplace. And something amazing happened. I felt nothing but compassion for the little tyke. He saw a rock, and he banged it. He found a string of bells and he pulled it. They happened to break. It wasn't the end of the world. 

So these days I’m embracing the broken things. I’m even saving that broken crystal. Because in the broken things I’m reminded to slow down, and listen to the subtle or not so subtle messages from the universe to move with a little more care and yes, maybe even a bit of grace.