You may have read the opinion piece by David Brooks awhile back entitled "The Broken Society." It was all about how we in the United States have become more "fragmented, dysfunctional, disempowered, and isolated."
Not a critique new to any of us. Of course, Brooks had a political agenda with his essay and I'm certainly not using this article to go there. It's simply that his title describing a broken society not only caught my eye but touched my soul. I was with some people a day or two after his article was published and it had caught them as well; however, not in a concerned way as it had me, but rather in a despairing and hopeless manner.
Their lives were already replete with family concerns and struggles. They already felt fragmented and disempowered enough in dealing with therapists, attorneys, and insurance companies, and the essay only served to push them to an even more disempowered and isolated place.
Rev. Ellen Sloan
For people of faith, disempowerment and fragmentation are serious issues. If we're not spiritually and emotionally vigilant, secular concerns, political agendas, and personal issues can drive us to some very sad and lonely places - places of no hope, places of abandonment. We're all broken. We know it and we hear it. Brokenness permeates both the Hebrew Scripture and the Christian New Testament. It invades our personal lives at times and in some moments can even saturate our souls.
However, as people of faith, we also need to remember that God meets us in those broken places. For Christians, Christ has met us in the most broken place of all - the most shattered place of all - at the cross. And in our knowledge that God is with us in the brokenness and suffering comes the opportunity to open that window toward hope and healing - where God's grace and mercy can begin to knit the broken bones of society back together - our own fractures and the brokenness of others. In our personal lives, our lives in community, and our lives as a nation.
In less than a month spring will be here in Sanibel, although it seems like a permanent spring season in this part of God's creation! Always new life budding everywhere in this paradise! What better place to discover new life and healing in our own lives. We don't even have to wait for the snow to melt to see new life. We're gifted with those images every day.
Are we a broken society? I'm not so sure of that at all. Do we have broken places in our hearts and souls that require healing? Of course. Do we have a way forward from the crosses of our lives, from disempowerment and isolation? Absolutely.
God's powerful spirit is around us and within us all the time, just waiting for us to open a window, open our eyes, open our souls ... and see.
The prophet Isaiah tells us, "I am about to do a new thing. Now it springs forth, Do you not perceive it."