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« An End of Year Message for YOU | Main | Celebrating Lucy of the Light »

The World Breaks Us Open Every Day

Rose Window - Notre Dame © KSHSunday evening I attended a Mass service with friends. Since I’m not Catholic and don’t speak Latin, I spent much of the time with my eyes closed, immersed in the experience and pretending I was sitting in Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite in Paris. The priest’s homily, however, was spoken in clear English and included a reflection on the tragic events this past week in Newtown, Connecticut. Included in his message that held no pat answers (which I appreciate) was this quote by Ernest Hemingway:

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

Monday morning I awoke with a compelling urge to spend time with my young adult son. Perhaps this was in light of the week’s unsettling events or maybe it had something to do with the approaching holidays. There is no pat answer here either, but I do know that my son and I are two individuals who have become stronger from experiencing the world’s breaking. I think perhaps it was this latter noticing that I wanted to share with him.

When I arrived for our visit, he’d just come off the racquetball court and was flushed with the glow of healthy exertion. He clearly hadn’t shaved in a few days, because there were speckles of dark growth on his alabaster chin. When he saw me across the room, he broke into his brilliant smile that many say he inherited from me. It is a trait that comes along with several others—some flattering and others not as much so.

During our time together we talked about my current foray into novel writing. I chuckled as he coached me not to worry about what others think and reminded me that Ray Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451 in a wickedly short period of time. He also pointed out that most of the great artists became “masters” by boldly breaking away from the standards of their day. My intuitive kid understands deep within his soul that not all pathways are straight and often it is the most challenging road that leads to passion and fulfillment.

My favorite moments were watching him light up while listening to him talk about his own art... how he’d recently learned airbrushing and taken to it with ease (like he’s done with most mediums of artistic expression) and his increasing interest in portraiture and acrylics. (I still clearly envision him as a mere tot sitting beside me in church, drawing the most remarkable images from inside his head.) He went on to share about the importance of his current mentors who’ve reintroduced and encouraged this lost passion to him.

Time and art are healing our broken places.

Cannon Beach circa 1990 ©WDHI heard (and related to) phrases like: When I’m doing my art, nothing else exists... It helps me focus and reminds me of what’s important... I’m getting better at it every day... All I need to be happy is a canvas and some paints or a pad and pencil... Who needs more stuff? Beauty is where it’s at.

Together we looked around the room where colors of blue and green organically swirled together, a creation of his artistic brush and paint. I raptly listened to his future hopes and dreams—art school, owning his own business, doing commercial renderings and focusing on fine art... living a healthy life. We also talked about Newtown and the tragedy of lives lost and the madness that brings a person like Adam Lanza to such a horrendous breaking point. We expressed our gratitude for the ability to change, grow, and step out of our own “madness”... to become stronger in the broken places. We hugged each other and said good-bye.


In closing this post, it feels important to share one final word...

My son and I didn’t congregate on a college campus or in the comfort of our own cozy home. Our time together does not come without effort or emotion. On this recent day (reminiscent of the previous three-plus years), I hung out with my firstborn after driving several miles, leaving my personal belongings locked in the car (including my hooded rain jacket) and dodging raindrops only to stand in a snail’s pace line for more than an hour before finally passing through a metal detector under the observant eye of a prison guard. Things are not always as they seem. You see... my brilliant, creative, courageous son currently resides in a correctional facility where he pays the high price for foolish mistakes and breaking important rules.

Nevertheless... The young adult who sat alongside me on this precious day in December of 2012 is one of the freest people I know.

There are no easy answers in life. There is no straight pathway. The world breaks us open every day.

Reader Comments (8)

Kayce, I LOVE this post. It is beautiful and hopeful and inspiring and...well, just wonderful. You, and your son, are a gift to the world. XOXO

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie Reber

beautiful, strong, brave

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBetsy

Thank you for sharing that precious time with your son - we all meet from broken places and offer love - and sometimes that love is rejected - which takes nothing away from the giver. For love is freely offered and given - and enriches the experience for the giver even when it is rejected. My only remaining son has chosen to separate himself from me for the past fifteen months - and almost from everyone else in his family. He has made his own prison - yet my love for him remains, as well as my prayers for his well-being. I pray daily that our loving Father protect and bless him just where he is.

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulett

julett - i offer my commenter "betsy's" words to you in return... beautiful, strong, brave. many blessings to you both!! xoxo

December 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkayce

Such a beautiful post.

December 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroxanne

I have not seen my mother in about 3 years. Selfish self prusuit of finding my passions and love of myself, a necessary part of my journey. Now is the time, lunch is set for set for January 3rd. Thanks for the post a needed push to continue on my journey and learn to accept the love offered.

December 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShe

"She" - my heart breaks wide open with hope for you and your mother as i read your words. sending love and peace to you both. with gratitude...

December 19, 2012 | Registered CommenterKayce S Hughlett

My heart breaks for you, I know from experience the visits to see my son incarcerated too. He served his time some years ago now, he is free but not from some of the same thinking and choices that got him there. Times of sobriety and addictions pull him on and off course. So he will return to work-release for a month at the beginning of this coming year. I love him so and care for his children too, from grand parenting back into parenting as needed. Love and strength to you!

December 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Anderson

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