To Read Not Made To Be Broken – Part 1 Here
I am on my knees on a Monday afternoon. I kneel inside of a chapel with stained glass windows standing strangely dim in the dark of a bitter winter. There is no sunlight illuminating their colours today. No one else occupies this space with me. The room drips in silence. I can’t remember the last time I stood so strikingly still.
Lord, I feel so unworthy. Soul-heavy and asking God the hard questions.
A folded up note paper slips to the floor. I gently unfold it and my eyes read:
I created you.
I love you.
I forgive you.
Nothing can separate you from my love.
I don’t know who scribbled these words and truly, I may never know. But I wept.
I was once told about the tradition of a particular African tribe. And it goes like this.
When a mother knows she is going to have a child, she goes off to sit beneath a tree, and she listens for the song of her child to come. Upon hearing the song of her child, she goes home and teaches it to her husband. When the child is born, she teaches the song to the midwives and older women of the village, and together, they sing the song over the child to welcome it into the world. As the child grows older, many people begin to learn the child’s song, until it is known to the majority of the village.
When the child falls or hurts its knee, someone picks it up and sings its song over it. Likewise, when the child does something wonderful or crosses a milestone in its life, such as puberty or schooling, the village gathers to its song over the individual as a way to honour the child.
If ever along the way the person commits a crime, or an aberrant social act, or simply loses their way, the village does not approach the person with punishment as we most typically do. Instead, the village recognizes that the solution is not punishment but a remembrance of true identity. The village recognizes that their behaviour has gone against their original design; that the person has strayed from their true nature. And so they approach the person with a deep love and they chooset to remind them of their true identity.
Gently, they call the person into the middle of the village. And there, in the midst of the richness of community, the entire village gathers to sing their song over the person. When the individual has forgotten their own song, forgotten who they really are – the village sings their song back to them. They remind the individual of who they are and why they were created. It is here, in the remembrance of identity, that the desire to hurt others fades slowly away.
This, now this, is our calling as friends, family, spouses, lovers and the body of Christ – to constantly sing their song over the person when they have forgotten who they are. To remind each other time and time again, that we are not these broken creatures scrambling on hands and knees for purpose and joy, but we are Sons and Daughters of the King.
Often we spend a lot of time telling the people that we love them, but it is of far greater importance we tell people that the Creator of the world loves them.
Do not let them forget.
Do not let the people you love forget their true identity.
I’ll close with the lyrics of the song Remind Me Who I Am:
“When I lose my way,
and I forget my name,
Remind me who I am.
In the mirror when all I see,
is who I don’t want to be,
Remind me who I am.
In the loneliest places,
when I can’t remember what grace is.
Tell me once again who I am to You,
who I am to You.
Tell me lest I forget who I am to You,
that I belong to You.
I’m the one you love.”