I was walking backward into Tommy’s yard while reading the graffiti that was painted on the boxcars that sat on the train tracks beside his back yard. I don’t remember now what the graffiti said because what happened next…well, it was “lights out, Alice!” Tommy’s baseball bat landed squarely across my nose as I turned around to tell the boys of what I had just read on the graffiti.
I was in the second grade, about 7 years old. Some of the neighborhood gang was playing baseball in Tommy’s back yard, which when I think about it was not a very bright idea, considering if one of them ever really got a hold of the ball in a good hit it would probably have knocked out a neighbor’s window, or worse yet – a neighbor. Actually, that’s exactly what happened, only I was the neighbor who got knocked out.
The next thing I remembered was being picked up off the ground with an intense pain in my head and no breath in my lungs; it seemed to have been knocked clean out of me. I remember trying to gasp for breath and not getting any. I quickly turned and ran home (about one block away) and of course, my breath did return after a few huge gasps.
Once home, my mother quickly drove me to the hospital. I remember the extreme look of concern on her face. I’m sure like any mother, when she heard what happened she was afraid I’d have some kind of permanent brain damage from such a blow to the head.
The Doctor said it was a really clean break; the bone was broken perfectly on both sides. How about that? I’d been saved from a life of a crooked nose. If Tommy had hit the ball as squarely as he hit my nose, he would have definitely knocked out a window somewhere over the home run fence. All I could think of was how hard that bat hit me, and how hard Tommy must have swung it.
As we read Psalm 51 in our Ash Wednesday service the other night, I thought about my broken nose all those years ago when we came to verse eight; “…let the bones You have broken rejoice.” That’s the only bone I’ve ever broken, and technically I think the nose is mostly cartilage, not bone. The idea that we can rejoice in our broken bones, the brokenness of our lives, is a key to understanding the spirit of many Psalms, as well as life in general.
God allows brokenness to occur that we should be humbled by the fragile nature of our lives, and to realize that He is our salvation, the source of all healing – all good things. Verse eight starts out, “You shall make me hear joy and gladness…” As we begin this Lenten season with days of fasting and self-denial, I want to encourage you to see the joy God wants to show you in your brokenness. If we allow the trials of life to humble us, rather than harden us, we’ll be able to see God’s love and forgiveness mending our broken bones (lives).
Friday’s and Wednesdays are traditional days of fasting for Christians in remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion. Check back each week for more joyful Lenten devotional thoughts. But for today, let your broken bones rejoice and be glad. Know that while God isn’t the cause of the brokenness in our lives, He loves us and wants to draw us closer through it all, if we let Him.
Shalom, for a Holy Lent,