Stay Close to the Cracks (As Featured in The Cry)

Stay close to the cracks,
To the broken places,
where people weep
and cry out in pain.

Stay close to the cracks,
where God’s tears fall,
and God’s wounds bleed
for love of us.

Stay close to the cracks,
where the light shines in,
and grass pushes up
through concrete.

Stay close to the cracks,
where wounds
open doorways
to healing and wholeness and life.

When I walk along the pavement I love to stop and examine the cracks where seeds have lodged, germinated and taken root. Sometimes a veritable garden of tiny wildflowers emerges as green shoots reach for the sky. I watch in amazement as they push aside the asphalt and allow light to penetrate more deeply, encouraging even more growth. Yet I realize too that this pushing through concrete could be quite a painful process for the little seedling. The resilience and strength these small plants show is incredible.

It is in the broken places of our society when pain and suffering abound that we see this same kind of resident growth. And it is often painful growth that makes us feel we are pushing through hard impervious concrete. It requires compassionate suffering and as we willingly sacrifice our comforts, seeds do germinate and plants emerge.

Compassion is a deeply rooted instinct expressed in a child before it is a year old. Those of us who believe in a compassionate, caring and loving God shouldn’t be surprised by this. Compassion is in God’s DNA and I think it is in ours too. We are created to be conduits of divine love and as that love flows from us in compassion and kindness, we are changed and God’s image is restored both in us and in those who receive our compassion.

Sometimes however compassion moves us beyond our comfort zones into places of suffering and sacrifice. We are called to compassionate suffering, a willingness to sacrifice our comforts and agendas for the greater joy of serving Jesus and seeing lives transformed.

We need compassion for our own healing. The prayer above was inspired by the song “Anthem” by the late Canadian songwriter and musician Leonard Cohen who sings “There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in.” When we are confronted with pain and suffering it is so that we can reach out in compassion and shine light in the darkness. It’s in the cracks, in the broken places of our lives and our world, where violence flares and pain cries out, that healing can happen. When we respond to brokenness with compassion we don’t just bring healing to others, we take steps towards our own healing and wholeness.

The resilience and strength that is required in all that are involved is awe-inspiring. Father Greg Boyle in Barking to the Choir writes that “standing at the margins with the broken reminds us not of our won superiority but of our own brokenness. Awe is the great leveler. The embrace of our own suffering helps us to land on a spiritual intimacy with ourselves and others. For if we don’t welcome our own wounds, we will be tempted to despise the wounded.”

I don’t think anything rejoices the heart of God more than when we show compassion to the most vulnerable and neglected in our society. When we stay close to the cracks, come face to face  with those who need our caring concern, take time to listen to stories of those who have been abused or share a meal with a woman wearing a burqa. Let’s allow our hearts to ache with the need to respond. This is where compassionate suffering is needed. This is where the love of God can flourish through our willingness to sacrifice in our service to Jesus, the one who through compassionate suffering came to make all things whole again.

(This article is adapted from The Gift of Wonder by Christine Aroney-Sine. Used by permission of Intervarsity Press P.O. Box 1400 Downer’s Grove Il 60515)

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ABOUT CHRISTINE

Christine Aroney-Sine facilitates the popular contemplative blog Godspace. In her new book The Gift of Wonder (IVP March 2019) she explores characteristics like play, curiosity and imagination that shape us into the people God intends us to be.

Together with her husband, Tom, she is also co-Founder of Mustard Seed Associates but recently retired to make time available for writing and speaking. In a former life, Christine trained as a physician in Australia practiced in New Zealand and developed and directed the healthcare ministry for Mercy Ships.

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