Learning to love broken things (a poem)
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Learning to love broken things
I am learning to love broken things Like the beauty of rust that bears witness to epochs past Or the tired barnacles that cling steadfastly to the underbellies of sunken ships To value the signs of aging as patina on antiques rather than as tarnish on time.
I am learning to love broken things To accept the parts of myself that can never be made whole That won't ever be perfect That will always be incomplete Like an unfinished Rembrandt Or the ruins of a once great city.
To love something unlovable
Not because it will one day produce
Or turn a profit
But simply because it is
Because it belongs to me
And because it shapes me
Like an unseen force.
I am learning to love broken things Even though it hurts to embrace them Like hugging a porcupine Or remembering a childhood trauma To admire the fire even as it burns down the family home.
I am learning to love broken things To see the shadows as inseparable equals to the light that casts them To search graciously for the grains of truth buried deep inside every lie To have faith even when institutions are unworthy of our trust And religions are as fallible as we are. I am learning to love broken things To be patriotic for a country that doesn't exist To live in a reality that never matches its ideals To partake in histories that can never be made right. I am learning to love broken things To find redemption somewhere between the grotesque crosses of the martyrs
And the squeaky clean halos of the saints To consume stale bread and sour wine as holy sacraments To bridge the chasms of the divided self
That project themselves unknowingly onto an unsuspecting society To welcome the stranger of grief
Knowing its visits are never permanent To make peace with failure by harvesting its wisdom To cultivate desire like one tends to a secret garden
Uprooting shame like weeds To make love like one writes poetry
With rapt attention and curious delight. I am learning to love broken things To be an embodied soul
Making little fuss between flesh and spirit
To see protest as prayer and prayer as protest
To care tenderly for my psyche like a mother holding a newborn child To master the art of imperfection To forgive myself and others for being human. I am learning to love broken things To discover unimaginable strength in unrelenting weakness Faithfulness forged through the crucible of adversity Integrity through the humble deliverance of confession. I am learning to love broken things Raw hope in the face of future despair Persistence in the stubborn monotony of the present Priceless treasures in the plunder of the past.