Beauty From the Broken
Beauty From the Broken
Written by Lesley Crawford
Overcomer, Blogger, Musician and Friend
Have you ever felt hopeless? That the brokenness is just too great? That there's nothing that can be done and no way it can ever be restored?
There were times, as I began to explore and share my story for the first time, that the brokenness seemed overwhelming. There were so many broken fragments that I didn't see how they could possibly be put back together into something coherent. As I laid out and examined the memories, it all just looked a mess- so much pain, so much confusion, so many questions...
The worst thing was that there were parts of my story that I couldn't even remember- holes in my memories. How was restoration possible if I didn't even have all the pieces?
Then someone told me the story of the Great West Window at Winchester Cathedral:
In 1642, during the English Civil War, the conflict reached Winchester. Roundhead soldiers looted the city, and invaded the cathedral, shooting at the windows and shattering them. Where once there were beautiful stained-glass depictions of Bible stories, soon all that remained were fragments of broken glass.
The people of Winchester were devastated. The cathedral had been their pride and joy and they had been helpless to prevent its destruction. In the midst of their sorrow, however, they held onto hope that one day the conflict would end, and they gathered up as many of the broken pieces as they could salvage.
In 1661, when the war was finally over, there were discussions in Parliament about knocking down the cathedral. It was by this point just an empty shell, with holes in the roof and empty spaces where the windows had once been.
The brokenness seemed too great.
The people of Winchester had a different idea however. They loved their cathedral and they longed to see it restored so they began the pain-staking task of assembling the broken fragments of glass into the window frame once more.
Of course, the destruction was such that it could never be restored to look as it had originally, but with clear glass inserted between the stained-glass fragments, the window was gradually pieced back together, and the finished effect is one of beauty.
I love how the education leaflet from the cathedral website sums it up:
"It didn’t tell stories from the Bible as it was meant to but told a different story. This story was of good overcoming bad, of great sadness turning into great joy, of conflict and fighting replaced by forgiveness and peace."
This story reminds me that even where there is great brokenness, restoration is possible. It may take time and commitment, and the finished product may look significantly different from the original, but in the midst of the brokenness, there is hope.
The same is true in our lives. There are circumstances which impact us in such a way that life can never be the same again. Yet even when our lives seem broken beyond repair, restoration is possible, and God is absolutely committed to doing this. However bad the destruction, his power to restore is greater. He can take the broken pieces and form them into something beautiful and new, and the result can be a testimony of hope, telling others of his power to redeem.
It amazes me that over 450 years after the window of Winchester Cathedral was destroyed and restored, God continues to use that story for good, as the people of Winchester's determination to create beauty from the brokenness speaks hope into my broken story.
If we surrender the pieces of our stories to God, who knows what beauty he can create, and who knows how he can use our brokenness for good as his light shines through the cracks and witnesses to others of his amazing power to restore?
As Eric Liddell put it: "Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God's plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins."
What circumstances in your life do you see God creating beauty from the broken?
Lesley lives in Scotland and works for a Christian charity, organizing camps and events for young people. In her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, reading, and walking in beautiful places, enjoying God's creation. Leslie has been blogging since 2015 at Life In The Spacious Place. The title of the blog comes from Psalm 18:19, and the focus is finding truth, hope, and freedom in Christ no matter the circumstances we face.