Monday, March 30, 2009

What is Brokenness?

When I first submitted the proposal for this book to my publisher, an editor asked me if brokenness was the right word for the problem I wanted to address; he wondered if suffering might be a better word. Without hesitation, I responded that brokenness was precisely the right word. Suffering might be a symptom of brokenness, but it is not the same thing. People suffer for a variety of reasons, such as grief, relationship problems, or illness, but brokenness is more than these things. Brokenness is more than a temporary emotion, more than a set of unfortunate circumstances. Brokenness is a felt state of being. People can feel broken whether or not they actually are. In spite of this, the feeling of brokenness is its own reality which must be acknowledged an honored.
I think this is something of what philosopher William James captured in his description of brokenness as “torn-to-pieces-hood”: “We have all known that experience, for to be human is to feel at times divided, fractured, pulled in a dozen directions … and to yearn for serenity, for some mending of our ‘torn-to-pieces-hood.’ ”
This story of brokenness isn’t just mine. It’s the story of many people. It may be your story. We each have broken areas of our lives, whether from things that have happened to us or as consequences of our own choices. We each have times and situations where our very souls feel fractured. And whatever our individual physical, mental, or emotional brokenness, our sense of disconnect is almost always amplified by our Western culture that covers our eyes with a veil of illusion about what we “should” be. rpt is from A Spirituality for Brokenness: Discovering Your Deepest Self in Difficult Times Ó 2009 by Terry Taylor (Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths Publishing). Permission granted by SkyLight Paths Publishing, P.O. Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091

No comments:

Post a Comment