Edward Fischer writes in Notre Dame Magazine (February, 1983), that a leper (or, more correctly, a sufferer of Hanson’s Disease) in Fiji followed the leading of his twisted hands. He became an internationally known artist. “My sickness I see as a gift of God leading me to my life’s work,” he said. “If it had not been for my sickness, none of these things would have happened.”
As a young girl, Jessamyn West had tuberculosis. She was so sick that she was sent away to die. During that time she developed her skill as a writer and authored numerous novels in her lifetime.
That great author Flannery O’Connor suffered numerous ailments — lupus struck her at 25 and she walked only with the aid of crutches for the final fourteen years of her life. She noted, however, that this illness narrowed her activities in such a way that she had time for the real work of her life, which was writing.
Some people succeed in spite of handicaps. Others succeed because of them. The truth is, our problems help to make us what we are. Those who suffer often learn the value of compassion. Those who struggle often learn perseverance. And those who fall down often teach others how to rise again. Our troubles can shape us in ways a carefree existence cannot.
A story is told of an Eastern village which, through the centuries, was known for its exquisite pottery. Especially striking were its urns; high as tables, wide as chairs, they were admired around the globe for their strong form and delicate beauty.
Legend has it that when each urn was apparently finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it — and then put it back together with gold filigree.
An ordinary urn was then transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn’t, until it was broken.
So it is with people! Broken by hardships, disappointments and tragedy, they can become disappointed and bitter. But when mended by a hand of infinite patience and love, the finished product will be a work of exquisite beauty and effectiveness; a life which could only reach its wholeness after it was broken.
If you feel broken remember that you are a work of art! And you may not actually be complete until the pieces are reassembled and bonded with a golden filigree of love.
From Steve Goodier’s JOY ALONG THE WAY
Thanks to Life Support [email protected]