New Life from Brokenness
A news broadcast recently told of a village in Afghanistan coming back to life. The Taliban had devastated it. Even more destruction occurred there during the recent battles. The villagers had became refugees and sought shelter wherever they could. Houses were crumbling and gardens forsaken. But today, the people are returning. They are repairing the broken walls, replanting the gardens. Children’s voices can be heard playing in the streets.
I listened to this report on the radio, I couldn’t help thinking of the
various times I’ve known my own devastating circumstances, not guessing
or daring to hope that out of these very shattering times new life would
eventually flourish. In a
particularly graced moment, memories of divine coincidences began to
pepper my thoughts.
I remembered the day when my daughter dropped by to
get me out of the house during a long illness.
We went down to an old paperback book exchange where I found a copy
of Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain. I’d heard of Merton, but never read anything he had written.
The personal autobiography of this young monk showed me how new
life can come out of the death of parents, the betrayal of friends, and
the confusion that results.
graced moment occurred when I received a postcard from a friend during a
Lenten season immediately following my father’s death.
I had so wanted to hear my father give some last words of love and
encouragement, but he slipped away before any of us could be with him. The postcard, while from my friend, seemed to also express my
father’s heart, listing why I was a valued friend and encouraging me to
“bring my light out into the world.”
New life began to spring from that moment as if my father had
communicated his blessing to me before leaving.
third moment of grace happened when I was introduced to a Methodist man in
charge of spirituality for the Methodist churches.
His personal story was inspiring and challenging.
I asked if I could write his biography, and he accepted. The writing occurred during a very painful breakup of a
long-term relationship. I
never expected the biography to become a published book, but recently that
amazing new life has sprung from the darkness of that period in my life. I could hardly believe it as I presented the book to a
conference in North Carolina recently.
gives us several promises in scripture to help us grow in faith that new
life is intended for all of us as we find ourselves in devastating times.
The one we are most familiar with is the death and resurrection of
Jesus Christ. He said,
“Unless a seed falls into the ground and dies it remains alone, but if
it dies, it brings forth much fruit.”
There is life in the seed that dies which becomes the very plant,
the new life, from which even more seeds will come.
Take hope my friends, that regardless of the darkness you may be
experiencing even now, new life is ready to spring forth.
the seed of your heart could use some gentle and wise tending, avail
yourself of some spiritual direction.
Spiritual direction is a ministry in which one person listens with
love to another, helping new life come forth.
Nancy Pfaff, MA, received her master’s degree in Christian Spirituality from Creighton University, and is a certified spiritual director, retreat leader, and teacher. For more information, call her at (775) 560-3030. Her new book, Light and Fire: A Spiritual Biography of Danny E. Morris may be obtained at any local book store or on the internet.