The Fragile Place of Peace

She grabbed an ornament off the tree. Not just any ornament, but pure crystal and collectible. My in-laws have sent 4 years of them now. I’ve balked at having such fragile things around. It’s just material, not necessary or worth the money. We should get by with simple, non-elegant things that don’t take our focus or concern right? But it was a gift, so I explained that I didn’t want her taking the ornaments off, that this one was fragile and we need to treat it gently. I hung it back fairly high on the tree.


As this little happening occurred, I thought about all the fragile gifts in life . . . The people in her home. The friends she has and the ones she has yet to meet. Her own heart which doesn’t always know the best way. Her own body, a gift she must care for and not subject freely. All these are a few of the fragile things in life. Interesting they’re all people?

It’s easier to be careful with a crystal snowflake, it seems to me. We fail by accident, we fail on purpose. Glass crashes all around us and we’re often deaf to the noise. We have shards wedged in our palms, blood on our hands. Just as I would rather not own a crystal ornament, wouldn’t we also rather not get closer to another? Sarcasm cuts in like a plastic decoration.

It seems futile for one to teach another about love and handling with care. As I show her how to hold a crystal, I know all the shattering I’ve done with my words and actions. Still, what’s good is good and I must teach her though I don’t know or act fully.

Fragile 3

Standing by the tree and watching her hold this crystal, it’s the time we hear again of Peace come to earth, and many wonder where it is. In this moment I’m reminded of its mysterious dwelling . . . the crevasses of fragmented hearts. The ones which have dropped and been dropped. Those which have shattered and know they can’t fix it.
When you see the blood on your own hands . . .

helpless to put the sharp edges together again . . .

you’ve heard a promise that brokenness will one day be wholeness . . .

that a fragile babe broke in to set our hearts awaiting . . .

Nativity. . . that’s the heart where peace lives right now.

So I will teach her first to know fragile “things.” Only if she knows they are fragile will she know it matters when they are broken. And perhaps I can be a better teacher of looking than of loving. Then, when things do shatter, I hope the story will resound and compel her to look with wonder to the end of all the dropping . . . when jewels abound and light shines without shadow . . . and all things beautiful are ours to hold in love completed.

“If” and “Then”

My kids are home every day.  They learn reading, math, and history in the dining room.  When I heard about the tragedy in Connecticut I wondered what to do with it.  If they were at a school, they would know.

Though I’m often tempted, I don’t like to live according to “If” and the fact “Is” they’re not at a school so I wondered, “Should I tell them?”  I decided that waiting wouldn’t hurt.  Being behind is not always bad.  I wanted to ask my husband what he thought first.

Before I got around to discussing with him, it was Monday and I had an appointment.  On the way, my observant daughter disrupted her quiet in the back seat by asking, “Mommy, why are all the flags only half way up?”

The time had come.  I started off slow.

“The flags are at “half mast” when someone important has died or when there is a day of mourning for something bad that’s happened . . .”  Inviting the next question.

“Did something bad happen?”

If and Then

“Yes honey, some children and teachers died and” . . . I told her the story as much as I knew it.


“That’s so sad . . .” and “why . . .” and all kinds of questions you would expect from a child.

The rest of the day she came intermittently with more questions and at least once it was something like, “what if that happens at my school?” ( they attend a class once a week)

In the van again later in the day she was asking about and planning a way of escape should she ever be faced with such a dreadful situation.  But there is always a point in your plan that you come to realize, it might not work.  She said to me, “What if I can’t find a place to hide?  What if I can’t get away?”  This is the time for “If,” I think.


“Honey . . .

 . . . Sometimes there’s not a place to hide.  Sometimes there’s not way out . . . ” It was hard to say, but I wasn’t going to lie to her and tell her that she’ll surely find a way . . . 20 kids and their teachers didn’t.

If and Then 2

” . . . That’s why it’s so important to remember that this is not your only life.  You have a whole other life waiting for you after this one.”

“Yeah . . .”  she said in a whisper, sounding like it was breathed out of hope.

She asked no more questions after that.  It wasn’t my goal to end her questions, I just think she got all the answers she needed just then.  She wanted to know “If,” and I don’t know of or believe in any bigger, “Then,” to tell her.

A Woodpecker’s Gift

Two months ago my daughter and I gazed out the window, so excited there was a woodpecker residing up close and personal. Then a few weeks ago, I noticed the pecking in the side of our house and he wasn’t so cute anymore. Four to 6 holes in all, I haven’t looked to recount. Two of them are gaping in the trim.

In the spring the whole chimney will need a good look over. The two gaping holes are that way for a reason other than the woodpecker. There has been moisture and possibly carpenter ants coming behind, dining on softened wood. This morning thinking over all of the repair and the extent of what it might entail, I was surprised to find myself thankful for that woodpecker. We’re not the type of people that go round inspecting every corner of our house for signs of something wrong. Should we be? I don’t know. All I know is that woodpecker who seemingly destroyed our chimney siding and trim has done us a favor. His pecking has revealed an inside existing problem. How long would it have been before we noticed without his help?



Isn’t that just the was it is with life? Destructive forces come along from any of several directions. Some we bring on ourselves, some are completely outside of us. It’s not easy to be thankful for them, but one thing they always do is expose what we’re made of. How long would we go on if the external stays in tact, the internal crumbling not exposed. The exposure lets the wind blow in, we’re cold, sometimes even shamed. And it’s grace that we can throw our arms up and then back down to our side. What to do now? It’s a mess. Only then can we get a thorough inspection. The carpenter knows what to do.

In my life, I have experienced this. I had a gaping hole, covered up and oh was it windy and cold when the shell was pecked off. To think of the crumbling that was yet to happen had it not been painfully, but mercifully pecked open . . . It’s an understatement to say that I’m grateful for the carpenter that repairs hearts and lives at their core. We’ve got an expense ahead, but I love that even a wood-pecking, bug-hunting bird is telling the story of how grace can break in.