Another wonderful Guest Post from Mark Shipsey…
I live in a house that was built 100 years ago. It is SOLID. Not to say it’s perfect, no, it shows the signs of wear. The clapboard siding is in need of scraping and painting, the windows could use some caulk, and the basement is pretty musty.
Of the more obvious things on the list, the plaster has seen better days. Although the foundation is built on a huge stone, the house has settled over the years, having inhaled and exhaled through many Maine seasons. The effects of time and movement show up in cracks to the plaster. Several generations of handymen have taken a turn at making repairs to this old girl. Some more aggressive than others.
I see some repairs that take the form of drywall joint tape with joint compound – or mud – to cover the tape. That guy’s heart just wasn’t in it! Other repairs are barely visible and I imagine that a true plasterer, a little old Italian man with old world tools came in here and left the evidence of generations of training on the walls and ceilings my house. Still, all those repairs, good and bad are doomed to fail. The only question is when. When will the underlying issue choose to reveal itself again?
Only half as old as my house, I have become an expert at my own internal plaster repair. You have too, I’d bet. Here’s a big difference between the repairs to an old house and the cover up you and I perpetrate daily: the repairs we make to a house are only cosmetic. The trials we encounter produce something good in us and still we cover it as if the crack that was produced on us was just cosmetic. We tend to resent the hardships we encounter.
Maybe you’re strong like my wife, Sooz, and embrace the hard road as a learning opportunity. Maybe you think the hard road should be the road less traveled, like me. Regardless, adversity comes and we choose how to orient ourselves to it. You take it in and wrestle with it until it makes you better, right? Not every time. But even when you don’t reckon with it the best you can, it still produces something beautiful in us. We learn something from it or it strengthens us. We gain a resolve or experiential wisdom, even if we are not as “in touch” with the gritty details of it.
The stresses in our lives bring cracks. We are cracked all over and we cover every one of them as soon as we see it! The untold truth is, the cracks are there to let the light in so we can see what is inside! The cover up keeps what good has come from our suffering or difficulty from being seen. We think we’ve fixed the façade only to find we starved the world and ourselves from enjoying the beauty of what’s in us!!! We patch the cracks to keep things out but what’s inside? … all the victories and all the polished gold, are hidden under there!
So back to the plaster crack in my wall. I cosmetically treat it because what’s underneath is ugly. It’s that simple. If I thought for one second there was something of beauty, goodness, or even utility under there I would expose it.
Here’s a practical example of what I am talking about. In 1954 Thailand wanted to move its treasured 10’ tall Buddha statue to a new building at the temple. Work got underway to move this massive thing. It was a little heavier than expected. It should not be that heavy of a thing to move, just a big stucco statue with bits of inlaid glass. After the final attempt, the ropes broke – the statue falls and cracks. It happens to you and me every day!
A priest notices in the cracks a shining reflection. Gold! More than 12,000 pounds of it! Evidently, in preparation for invasion from the Burmese, 18th century priests applied a stucco finish to the golden Buddha to preserve it and make it look less valuable. Mission accomplished, but all the priests were slaughtered and the secret remained hidden until 60 years ago.
If the Burmese invaders could have seen inside, to the true value of that stucco statue, they would today be in possession of $250 million dollars for just the gold alone!
I know you want to cover the stress fractures life has created all over you, I get it. I do it too. But what are we keeping from the world around us that it desperately needs?
Agree with me that we will do a better job of letting the people we love and trust around us see in the cracks and gain the wealth that hardship has produced inside of us instead of plastering over it trying to look good. I know you want to let Goodness in, are you willing to let the Goodness out?
Join me in letting the cracks show.
Do you hide the broken places in your life or do you let them show?