The Language of ‘Brokeness’

I’ve just arrived back from a trip to Paris where the language barrier was one I definitely had a fun time with.

By the second day in Paris, I had just about given up even trying to verbally communicate in French as “Bonjour”, “Bonsoir”, “Merci” and “Au revoir” had become about the most my pitiful attempts at two-way communication consisted of.

Then one day as I flew along to catch our connection on the metro something happened which completely took me by surprise. As we came up to a flight of stairs there was a woman at the top of them struggling to get her wheelchair down them. As I looked on everyone seemed to ignore her as she tried to ask people for help. To be honest I was about to put my head down and do the same thinking there must be a genuine reason why everyone’s deliberately going pass this woman? Should I go along with the crowd? Besides… I haven’t the vocabulary to talk to her!!!

Drawing alongside her the look of desperation stopped me in my tracks as I then saw her young son, who looked no more than eight but clearly the one whom the wheelchair was for, trying awkwardly to manouvre sideways down the stairs. Gripping tightly to the railings his younger sister was trying to help him. I couldn’t walk past but having no words of French to verbally offer her help, all I could do was give the mum a smile and gently hold the side of the wheelchair to indicate my intentions of help.

As we started to move slowly down the steps, of which there was quite a few, the sense of relief that came over her face penetrated deep down, especially as this mum and her little girl kept saying over and over ‘Merci! Merci!’ All I could do was smile back. Watching the face of the little struggling boy light up with what seemed like thankfulness that someone chose to stop and help him and his mummy, something ‘broke’ in me, something in me broke big time…

A couple of days later flying back to Northern Ireland, reminising on all the adventures of Paris, it was this memory that flooded back. As I felt that brokenness again, picturing the despair surrounding that little family, it wasn’t anger or judgment towards those that kept on walking past that hit home, because truth was I nearly did the same. It was the brokeness that I felt thinking of how I had witnessed in another nation just like within my own homeland a people caught up in ‘self’.

Day in day out we keep going engulfed in our own thoughts, issues, needs, wants that seem never ending! We have become a people trapped in our ‘self’, our inward looking ways wrapped in a thick layer of self pity and pride. I know, I’m one of those people whose trying to change, but man it’s hardwork changing for the better!

Something certainly did change as I thought of being back home, thinking of the times I’ve chosen to ignore someone’s loneliness; someone’s struggles; walking past a mum struggling to get shopping in the boot of her car with a squeeling child making it difficult for her; driving warm and dry, past a little old lady shuffling home through the wind and rain trailing bags after her…

Now I’m no theologian, but, sitting in the plane trying hard not to let the tears flow, I wondered if what I felt that day was something of the ‘brokenness’ Jesus spoke about in the story about The Good Samaritan. When he explained how the Samaritan saw the condition of an injured man lying at the side of the road beaten up by robbers and ‘his heart went out to him’ was this what Jesus was talking about? Was it this sense of ‘brokenness’ that was so evident in Jesus as he walked among people group after people group? A ‘brokenness’ that he instantly knew when someone in need desperately stretched out touching his clothes in the middle of a throng of possibly ‘selfish’ people all fighting to be the one to get Jesus’ attention?

What if we became a people who allow something of this language of ‘broken’ love to melt our inwardness, and help us to become a people prepared to do more than just ‘talk the talk’ of Jesus but walk it, model it, realising as I did that day in the Metro, that this language of ‘brokenness’ could actually be the answer to so many issues and problems in our society and nation?…

The language of brokenness. One that can mend, heal and restore across many a barricade, many a divide! A language that is multilingual. God’s language. The language of love.

The language of ‘brokeness’…