sometimes I just need a little scrap

I live surrounded by scraps of paper. I’m sure it has something to do with embracing the whole absent-minded professor trope. It makes for a messy desk — and sometimes a messy mind. I long ago gave up trying to remember things and started jotting stuff down on the backs of envelopes, napkins — the sticky side of sticky notes. Yeah, that last one a little sad. But there it is.

Today, finding myself with little to do, I cleaned up my workspace and made a pile of all the scraps. It was quite an assortment of quotations, song titles, short stories, poems, and inexplicably, software. I’m not quite sure why I wrote that down because it doesn’t seem useful and has a rather dull sounding name, so…I pitched it.

But then I found this piece of brilliance. And by brilliance, I mean … great brightness; luster; splendor; elegance.

Today is always the right time to search for beauty in a broken world.

Boy do I live in a broken world. If you know me personally, you may know of some of that brokenness, but I live in a nice little state of grace, yes I do, that protects me from it, or at least keeps me from dwelling on it and suffering overly much.

I’m talking about the broken world I see when I go into work. The folks I’ve worked with in the community. The guy at the light who insists on streaking and smudging my windshield with a dirty rag in the hopes that I’ll tip him a dollar for grinding the dirt further into my new car.

I’d rather not look them in the eye and have to acknowledge their humanity. It’s too hard. But then I think of Mother Theresa who said, “If we can’t love the person, whom we see… How can we love God whom we can’t see.” If nothing else, the good sisters at my elementary school did a good number on me with Catholic guilt.

I can’t not look them in the eye. And I can’t not love them. Sometimes I lose because of it — it’s a risk that people can take advantage of me or have a hidden agenda, but it’s worth it. You see, it’s easy to see the beauty in a sunny day. Flowers always bring me joy. Good music moves me in profound ways. My husband’s embrace, my children’s smiles — these things are beautiful to me and easy to love.

But sometimes I see the beauty in the broken, and it’s just as breath-taking. For all the anger I face daily, I sometimes catch a glimpse of love, and it’s beautiful. I see grown men whose hands are rough from manual labor, men who are used to giving orders, humble themselves and ask for help because they want to improve their opportunities to make life better for their families. I see women who are terrified to return to school after being away for decades rediscover their passion for learning. I see immigrants who can barely communicate in English express their joy at understanding a difficult reading passage.

I am surrounded by beauty in this broken world because I am surrounded by people. We are all broken in some way, and yet, we are all so beautiful, I think, because we love.

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