We make the ill-considered decision to go to the thrift store as a family to see if we could replace it. We also find some things for my newest venture (another day, a different story) and get those in the cart as well. When I find a couple of vases to replace the broken one, I balance them precariously near the top of our cart, because.....I have no idea why I did that.
It's a half-off day at the store so the line to check out is very long. I get in line with the kids and like a squirrel, I wander a few feet from the cart to look at something. There is a terrible crash and clatter and Vivian is screaming. I look to see that the entire cart toppled on it's side right on top of her. Also, both the vases spilled out, shattered, and left broken glass all around her. On top of that, she is barefoot because she removed her shoes for mysterious reasons. It's a horrible moment: the loaded cart, the glass, Vivian crying and pinned down under it. I swoop to try to fix it. I feel a dozen eyes on me-none feel friendly. We have made a spectacle. Is she ok? Where are her shoes?! How did this happen? It feels bad and embarrassing and I so want to be out of this line of strangers frowning at me with a look of scorn and--is that contempt? Wow. This does feel bad.
One of the cashiers comes over with a broom and trash and I beg him to let me do it. Don't give these people any more reason to be annoyed. Please just go and keep checking them out, I plead. Bill moves ahead with the kids and our cart. I keep sweeping up glass. So. much. glass. But then, this story gets worse. Just as I'm almost done, I ask Landon to return a white board I don't want anymore. As he quickly removes it from the cart, the remains of the two vases (that Bill had put there without my noticing) get flung out of the cart again and shatter. Again! This is not the 7 pieces of broken pottery you dropped on tile. This is a hundred thousand glints and bits of glass flung across a wide circle, even flying up on the feet of the woman waiting in line behind us. She mutters. I moan. "This is a nightmare," I say out loud, because I can't believe how this is playing out.
Bill gets the cart and the kids checked out. And still I'm sweeping. Under the clothes rack. By the jewelry case. This mess is in the way of people trying to come into the store. Some pass without remark, but others stop to watch and "helpfully" point out specks and sparkles I have missed. Did I put helpful in quotes? I'm sure they were being helpful, but I think I was too mortified to feel it. The fright of seeing Vivian under the cart, the shame of my parental neglect, the drama of glass flying through the air and shattering into shards bent on colonizing this entire store....
I am weary. It was meant to be a simple validation that though my mom is not with us here, our memories remain, intact and cherished, like marbles in a lovely vase.
Instead, the whole thing served to suggest that my life is chaotic and humiliating. That nothing lasts, and loss is permanent. And all those shards of glass? Just the pieces of my broken heart that I'm sweeping up in front of strangers who don't seem all that kind...
Yes. Sometimes when I'm sad I jump from sad to full-blown melodrama. (But even when I'm being melodramatic the pain is still real)
So then we go to church the next day. And isn't Jesus kind? THIS is the song that brought me to tears:
Wound? What happens to the light when our heart shatters? I think sometimes we just have to sit in the light, though it is painfully bright and we feel raw and weary. He could sweep up all my parts and pieces. God calls himself a potter. I can trust that he can fashion me into something stronger, useful and beautiful---these shards now will be the sparkle later. And that's where His light will shine through me.