I recognize that there is a level of privilege that comes with being broken-hearted after the election. My colleague at The Salt Collective, Lawrence Richardson wrote about that beautifully this week. Never-the-less, I felt something break, an almost a physical snapping, on election night.
The normalization of sexual violence and sexism grieved me. I worried about our social safety net, education, health care, social services. The promise of racism, xenophobia, islamophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments scared me. I am a white woman, who was unemployed on election day, with a couple “pre-existing conditions,” married to a dark-skinned immigrant. As a result, the election hurt, not just an “oh, I was hoping somebody else would win,” kind of hurt but an actual heart-break hurt.
“Take your broken heart and make it into art,” Meryl Streep quoted Carrie Fischer in her Golden Globes acceptance speech recently.
I woke up the morning after the election with two overwhelming desires in my broken heart. First, to make something beautiful to share with the world, and second to spend some time taking in some beauty.
I walked around the lake at a local park and took pictures. As I was walking I felt my heart heal. The heart break of the election had done something to strengthen my commitment to truth, beauty, justice and love. “My light is getting stronger,” I thought to myself. Then I thought of the proverb from the Zapatista movement in Mexico, “Quisieron enterranos, pero les olvido que somos semillas.” “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”
That’s when I realized that my heart was glowstick.
“They tried to break us,” I thought to myself, “they didn’t know we were glowsticks.”
A glow stick is a plastic tube filled with Phenyl Oxalate and Fluorescent Dye. The tube also contains a glass vial of Hydrogen Peroxide. When the you bend the tube, the glass vial breaks. The chemical reaction between the Phenyl Oxalate and the Hydrogen Peroxide creates a glowing light. But the glowstick will not glow unless the glass vial at the heart of the stick breaks. An unbroken vial leaves a non-glowing glow stick.
Breaking and Light
Christian spirituality often links breaking and light.
The incarnation is God of heaven breaking through to Earth and being the light that is life for all people.
Jesus’ body breaks. He dies. At the resurrection we see an Angel that looks like lightning.
On the road to Emmaus, the two disciples do not recognize Jesus. When He breaks the bread they see the light and recognize Him.
No matter what happens in 2017, I know that a broken heart is a powerful thing. Whether we use our broken heart to create art (visual, performance, digital, written), or to connect more deeply with others, or to take political action for social change. I believe that broken hearts can change the world.
My dear broken hearted people, God will break through our broken hearts with great light.
The administration says that sexual violence against women is ok. But God’s light breaks through broken hearts and declares that women’s bodies have sacred worth. Women are made in the image of God. It was a woman’s body that carried God inside her for nine months.
The administration says that we should be afraid of immigrants. But God’s light breaks through broken hearts and declares that we were once foreigners in Egypt and declares that we are responsibility for the well-being of the immigrants and orphans in our land. Everyone is our neighbor, not just those who look like us, worship like us or speak like us.
The administration says that fake news, secrets, lies and exaggeration are the norm. But God’s light breaks through broken hearts and declares that truth is real and that the truth will set us free.
The administration says that it is ok to mock people. God’s light breaks through broken hearts and reminds us that anyone who calls a brother “fool,” is guilty of murder.
And, in a time when people feel scared, alone, grieving and broken-hearted, God’s light, in Jesus breaks through the barriers of heaven and earth and becomes one of us, the broken hearted. The light of the world offers us comfort.
My prayer, is that we would allow God’s light to break through our broken hearts.
I recently began attending Living Spirit UMC, a small Multi-cultural congregation in Minneapolis. Living Spirit members pray a breakthrough prayer each day. I think this prayer is appropriate for the broken-hearted wherever we are.
“God, break through my heart into the world. May your kinetic energy meet my willingness to be your hands in my neighborhood in service to something greater than I can imagine…equip us for your work, and use us to realize your vision for the future. Amen.”