an aside -2

The story of creation in the Kabbalah states that at the beginning of time, God concealed Godself , pouring God’s infinite light into vessels, which shattered , the shards of which became sparks of light trapped in the universe, and that (long story, short) the human being’s role is to release these sparks of light so that they can reunite with the essence, that is God. An amazing intuition of the Big Bang, this story of creation also coincides with Teilhard’s vision of the universe containing seeds of the divine , which must reunite in more and more complex ways through evolution in order to reach the fulfillment– the Omega point– the convergence of what was set in motion at the beginning. While the Jewish version of the story sees the world as broken and in need of repair (repairing the broken vessel), Teilhard sees it as intentional , this breaking apart in order to become Something More. (I wrote about this the other day here)

Today, I have been remembering a spiritual exercise we did around this story of the broken vessel 15 years ago. We were each given a clay pot and asked to carry it to the flagstone hearth in our gathering space, where we were asked to drop it. At the time it was a very powerful and profoundly healing experience for me , envisioning humanity walking to the edge of life, saying ‘yes’ before they fell into life, ‘yes’ to being broken. Broken in order to become. Broken in order to grow Love was how i felt it then, and I was filled with tenderness for humanity then.

We were then given back the shards of our pots and asked to repair them. I cherished that repaired pot for many years; it held earth and water, nurtured and blossomed a plant, which gathered light and offered oxygen to me. It’s cracks, while not exactly where the light got in, felt precious, like the Kintsugi pottery whose cracks are repaired with gold. I remember likening that pot, also, to another story of a broken pot, carried on the yoke of a woman’s shoulders, never quite making it back to the village full of water like its companion, the unblemished pot. Until one day, it was noted that the side of the trail upon which the broken pot had been carried was lush with flowers from being daily watered by the leaky pot.

Those were healing stories for me, at a time when I felt so very broken myself, like I could not seem to hold onto the feeling of goodness in me, the feeling of belovedness, the feeling of joy of of hope. At the time i had written many pieces already about the feeling of being a broken vase, unable to hold beauty, Even upon my repair, the water leaked away. I was useless, unable to contain Love, I felt.

Twenty years later, I hear the story of the shattered vessel in a new light. Then, when we were given the clay pot, it represented a personal story… a personal choosing of life, despite the knowledge that one would be broken, a personal story of salvation and healing. My spirituality, perhaps neccessarily so, was all about personal relationship and healing. The mystical experiences I had at that time were filled with images, words, and sensations of being enfolded in ecstatic love. Beloved.

Today, were I given that clay pot, in that group of a dozen, I would be inclined to join my shards with those of the others, to make of our broken shards of light something new, something larger, able to hold more–more ‘candlepower’ as Teilhard might say. For this is how I understand the way we are a part of the Becoming now, or the way we are to ‘heal’, if you will (though I do not see the brokennes at all as tragic but as inspired, as Love willingly pouring of Oneself out )

To envision this in Teilhard’s universe, is to see the shards combining, then combining, and combining again and again, like those atoms forming molecules forming cells forming mitochondria forming…. and I am (and you are) a part, a bit, an atom, of that becoming More, or as Parker Palmer says (thank you Rayelenn), ‘only one thing among many, not set apart from the life around me, but embedded in the miracle of life itself, an atom participating in the coming together , in the ripening, and together we can bear good fruit’. Having the privilege to participate in this grand becoming both enobles my life and humbles it at once. I am a tiny speck, but an integral one.

So, what does it look like to add my shard to the growing pot?

Today I scrubbed some floors and shed some tears

because I love

and the light shone through the grown whol-er shape of my own shattered life,

and lit up the room like the sun.

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