How the Light Gets In

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

That Leonard Cohen lyric was quoted twice in books I read recently, related to perfectionism.  The second time around, it made me think of a piece I made in my ceramics class in college.

The assignment was to be a “self portrait” of sorts.  Something that represented us in a deeper way than looking like us or just being something we liked.

Naturally, I started with a Jars-of-Clay-style jar, based on the self-titled CD photo.  It turned out really great, so I was tempted to save it and make a different one to use for this project, for reasons that will be obvious in a moment.  But I also knew that using the one I cared about would be more meaningful to me.

And then I damaged the jar.

Because I felt broken.

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I felt wounded.

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I felt torn.

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I used a boring brown as the main color, then blue (because I like it).  I used green on the inside to represent the healing God was working in me.

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Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

So, it’s been months since I started this post’s draft, and I don’t remember what all I wanted to say.  (I think I was waiting to read more of a book about perfectionism, so I could reference that.)  So I’ll just take it in a different direction.

Last year, I got to see Switchfoot and Lifehouse in Baltimore.  I’ve been a huge Lifehouse fan for years.  I used to listen to Switchfoot’s music a lot, but then lost interest.  We weren’t really excited to see them play, but we were so pleasantly surprised!  We loved their set, and I acquired some excellent new concert memories, including this moment:

Jon Foreman of Switchfoot clasped my hand when interacting with the crowd

A few seconds of eye contact and a clasped hand to create a moment of real connection

I also captured this shot of the two lead singers, which they then shared on their Instagram accounts:

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Anyway, looking at this post draft, I couldn’t help but think of Switchfoot’s song “Where The Light Shines Through.”

You can read the story behind the album and song here.

Cause your scars shine like dark stars
Yeah, your wounds are where the light shines through
So let’s go there, to that place where
We sing these broken prayers where the light shines through–
The wound is where the light shines through
Yeah, the wound is where the light shines through

Jars of Clay has a song with a similar theme, “Faith Enough.”  It talks about being “strong in the broken places.”  (It was based on a quote from a Hemingway book I remember hating in high school.)

◊♦◊♦◊♦◊♦◊

 I took a writing class my freshman year of college.  It was memorable for a lot of reasons.  One actually ties back into the original theme of perfectionism – I was praised as a good writer in high school, and I cared deeply about my grades, so getting less than 90% on my papers in this class was very difficult.  He was very critical. It wasn’t until the last day of class when we were filling out the surveys (when the prof left the room) that we talked about grades, and found out that only one person in the class had broken 90% on a paper.  Suddenly my high 80’s weren’t so devastating, and I do know that the class made me a better writer.

Anyway, the reason I thought of that class was the theme of a classmate’s paper.  She argued against the adage “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  I don’t think I read the paper itself, but I’ve often wondered about the assertion.  I’ve certainly felt at times that wounds have left me feeling weaker.  I don’t always feel strong in the broken places.

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