The things that are left

the things that are left.JPG

Things That Are Left

The older I get, the more I come to treasure the broken things,
the broken people.
You see it in my photographs. You see it in my writing.
The small group of people who know me see it in my life.

I was not always this way.

I have always loved old things.
Old houses.
Old people.
Old cars.
Old paintings.
19th Century Theologians.
Dead poets.
Antiques and old gardens.

I loved that they had survived.
I saw in that survival a strength,
evidence of just how well made and secure
these old things were.
I created a myth, an example of what I wanted to be
and become. Solid. Sure. Infinitely trustworthy,
worthy because of the craftsmanship of a life well constructed
of the finest materials,
the finest finishes, gleaming and quaint,
a masterpiece
that I had a hand in creating.

Yeah.
Right.
I know better now.

I know the dissolution of failure.
I have found myself in the ruins of Pompei,
ash-covered stone,
parts of me unrecognizable,
unredeemable, left in the back room out of sight of tourists;
parts of me not worth the effort to resurrect.

I have learned the combination of work and waiting,
the honesty of brokenness and the slow path back,
never to what was, but to something new,
tiny bits of what was, just enough to become protective coloration,
reminders of what I appeared to be, but was not
strong enough
to be.

I am not certain which is more important,
the work or the waiting. I only know without both
you are forever false, a fragile ruin waiting
for the next big wind.

So it is, you see, that I treasure the broken.
I know.
I know the work it takes to survive,
the fears that must be overcome,
the tears that must be cried.
I know veneers for what they are,
and I know the importance of bones, and
how the broken ones become the strongest.

About this poem. 

I feel like crap today (A notably un-preacherly word). Strep throat and cough while I travel to faraway Virginia. I have work to do and it’s not going well. Today and yesterday I pushed through as I traveled. I hope I haven’t looked as bad as I feel. My family, who I am spending the nights, say I don’t. I suspect they are kind.

Sometimes I hate my depression. Sometimes I hate my no longer 20-year-old body. Sometimes I hate days like today when all sorts of stuff pops up and you just have to deal with it. (Did I mention one side of my Trooper’s back bumper came loose. It’s fixed, but having to deal with it 11 hours from home… Sheesh.)

Sometimes I hate the list of failures in my life. Some of them invisible, some of them spectacular.

But mostly I don’t. I’ve come to appreciate just how much it takes to survive life with a good attitude and with love, the real stuff (See 1st Corinthians 13:4-8 and Galatians 5: 22-23). I know what it takes so many people to just function through their anxieties and fears and failures. I am glad for that knowledge, heart knowledge, not book learning, however, it finally came to me.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

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