Fear Not the Broken Heart

Image: “Treasured Heart” by Shelly Penko

While we are on the topic of “rending” our hearts this Lent, (or “rend+er-ing” or “sur+rend+er-ing” it, or the many beautiful words we can use to describe those gestures which make us more vulnerable to God’s grace, or open to receive it), I thought once again[1] to share Katherine Mahon’s wonderful essay, Rend Your Hearts: How to Break Your Heart This Lent, which she published on Ash Wednesday 2016 on the always enriching Daily Theology website.

Being a visual person, I tend to draw images, metaphors, analogies—anything that sparks a deeper understanding from whatever it is that I seek to know better.  Mahon suggests a profoundly satisfying image to describe the Christian heart, based on Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery. I’m not sure if my use of the word “repairing” is wholly correct since the end result of Kintsugi is a stronger and more beautiful piece than the original, unmarred piece ever was.

Mahon writes,

“But I want to put forward a new image of a heart to meditate on: the Christian heart. The Christian heart is a broken heart, a heart whose brokenness is filled the golden beauty of God’s love. The Christian vocation to love is not about having a strong, impenetrable heart and the ideal Christian heart is not unblemished, free of wear and tear. It is a heart broken time and time again; the brokenness not simply healed, but made beautiful by God filling the imperfections and remaking them. These gilded imperfections form a pattern that tells a story not of an unbreakable heart, but of a heart made stronger and more beautiful by being torn open by loving and brought together again through God’s love. A broken heart is not something to fear and avoid, then: it is the very means of our salvation, the key to wholeness. The Christian heart is a heart that is broken for God.”[2]

Take the time this Lent to read Mahon’s essay and while you’re at it, explore the bounteous Daily Theology site.


[1] On Palm Sunday last year I referenced Mahon’s essay in a reflection based on Thomas Merton’s prayer about vulnerability. You can read it here:  https://thegooddisciple.org/2016/03/19/though-i-am-lost-i-will-not-fear/

[2] https://dailytheology.org/2016/02/10/rend-your-hearts-how-to-break-your-heart-this-lent/

Author: Susan Francesconi

Catholic blogger, liturgical art consultant, citizen of the world, and student of life striving to generate something good.

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