Pastoral Series

The Beauty of Brokenness: God’s antidote

Just days before the banking collapse of 2008, a sculpture of a golden calf by Damien Hirst sold for 10 million pounds at a Sotheby’s auction. This sculpture feels to me like a cousin to that bronze “charging bull” that sits in the financial district in Manhattan. In my morning Bible reading the day before…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: Weak, Wounded

Winston Churchill, fumbling for words and sensing a need to apologize for being old when he was courting Clementine, parroted something he’d heard in church, with a funny addition: “We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glowworm.” The prayer Jesus began on the cross (“My God, why have you forsaken…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: Our Limitations

As much as I like Garth Brooks, I’ve always grimaced a little when I hear his ballad of how he ran into his old high school flame and remembered how “each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine.” But digging the woman he actually married later, he crooned “Sometimes I thank God…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: That Boy and Those Socks

I wrote this a couple of months ago. Still seems pertinent, given all that’s going on now:  In May of 2016, I had the dumb luck of meeting and spending over an hour with perhaps my favorite writer, Brian Doyle. A friend and I were at a meeting in Portland. She reached out to him,…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: Beauty Remains

In my semi-autobiographical book Struck From Behind, I have a chapter on books I’ve read that have shaped, moved, and even annihilated me. While writing, it occurred to me that some of the most marvelous books are required reading when you’re in 10th grade or a freshman in college. Understandably – but so many of…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: The End of the Day

So much beauty dawns not at dawn, but at dusk at the end of the day, even at the end of life. The poet John O’Donohue notices that “There is great beauty in how the light takes its leave of the day. From the first blush of dawn, the day is carried everywhere by the…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: Needing and giving help

Americans are taught never to show weakness, and even to pity or even despise those who are weak. But to say “I need help” isn’t shameful, but opens a door to empower and delight another person. When I was a little boy, I used to stay with my Aunt Zonia. She had weak, gnarled, almost…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: The Place To Go

Ernest Hemingway, whose novels can range toward the depressing or despairing, surprisingly has given us an optimistic, hopeful line in Farewell to Arms: “The world breaks everyone, and then some become strong in the broken places.” This thought has stuck with me, and meant a lot to me. Typically our world asks about our strong…

Learn More

The Beauty of Brokenness: Ash Wednesday

Back in 1990, I read and was moved by Robert Bly’s great book about men, their feelings, struggles, work and loves: Iron John. I was 35 years old when I read, on page 81, “Despite our Disneyland culture, some men around 35 will begin to notice how many of their dreams have turned to ashes….

Learn More

The Beauty of Epiphany: the Sublime

Back in the 70’s, my buddies and I went through a phase when you would suggest having a beer together by saying “Let’s head to the mountains” – picking up on Busch’s ad campaign. The Bible might invite us to make a journey to the mountains, for a different sort of intoxication, a different kind…

Learn More

Warning: Use of undefined constant custom_pagination - assumed 'custom_pagination' (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/myerspar/public_html/wp-content/themes/myerspark/pastoral-series-template.php on line 42