At first glance, the broken pieces seemed like nothing more than a shattered mess, painful reminders of what once was, with no value or use.
The shards themselves had been given, brought as offerings, to be used in the skilled hands of the guest artist. Some were pieces of colored glass, fragments of bottles, or jars that once held something of value. A few were pieces of china and pottery that once held tea and adorned grand tables.
Other pieces were from children. These were most often buttons of various shapes, colors, and materials. Still, others were leftover parts of toys that once entertained the youngest, but now were almost forgotten, destined to be simply thrown away.
With careful attention to color and shape, the artist carefully selected each shard from the overflowing pile before her. Then, with equal care and attention, her selection was placed in the proper location.
Sometimes close to another, other times apart. A few were ordained as new focal points for collecting others that would soon show up.
Ever diligent, the artist continued to place the shards. Over time she created what all would say was a stunning masterpiece of color, pattern and texture.
We who had contributed the pieces were the most appreciative of all. What had started as a pile of our broken glass, buttons, marbles and colored plastic was now a work of art – unique, spectacular and breathtaking.
I am reminded of this experience during our journey through Lent. Lent is when those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers are challenged to examine and evaluate our lives. It is a somber time of taking inventory of things we have done and the things we have left undone.
Such introspection often exposes fragments of broken promises, guilt over bad choices, failure at nurturing relationships, and pain left over from shattered hopes and dreams. Our human tendency is to ignore these shards of our lives or, at best, to cover and hide them. We wish not to claim them or own them.
But the story of Lent is the story of a God who, having formed us and claimed us, would not leave us where God found us. It is the story of a God who, like the artist, can take all the broken, forgotten, seemingly insignificant pieces of our less-than-perfect lives and, out of them, create new life, redeemed life that is truly unique and spectacular.
We need just offer the pieces and trust the Artist’s skill. And, of course, give thanks when the masterpiece is revealed and in it, we see ourselves!
Grace and peace, and new, redeemed, and repurposed life to you this season of Lent.
Pete Berntson is the pastor of Church of the Palms United Methodist Church in Okatie.