The character Violet Crawley, from Downtown Abbey, is known for her snippy remarks. In an episode from the PBS television series, she stares at another woman who’s standing at a distance, and then says, “She’s cracked!” Violet was telling the truth about all of us.
Leonard Cohen’s poem says it all:
Ring the bells
That still can ring.
Forget their perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
I remember my 25-minute drive to cardiac rehab. I was recovering from open heart surgery. As I drove back and forth for three months, three times a week, I listened to a CD called Where the Light Shines Through, by the group Switchfoot. The chorus from the title track got me.
“The wound is where the light shines through.
The wound is where the light finds you.”
What if our wounds are self-inflicted? I struggled with that question as I read Brennan Manning’s memoir, All is Grace. As I sat in our backyard in an ‘ol splintered adirondack chair, I would often slam his book shut in disgust and go inside.
I’d pick it up again and head back outside. Manning tells of his on-again, off-again, chronic bouts with alcoholism, while he continued to travel the country, speaking at conferences about the Christian life. What’s wrong with this picture?
I finished the book and went inside. I walked to our bathroom, and looked in the mirror. I realized my judgment was harsh. I’ve struggled with my own different set of demons like everyone else. I’ve abused God’s grace.
Everyone struggles with someTHING, but not everyone has someONE to walk them through.
In the foreword to Manning’s book Philip Yancey wrote, “As you read this memoir, you may be tempted, as I was, to think, Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t given in to drink. I urge you to reframe the thought to, Oh, what might have been…if Brennan hadn’t discovered grace.”
Manning passed away before he changed, but during his life he held onto a grace he could never deserve or earn, even if he hadn’t been an alcoholic. In the docudrama, “I Still Believe” Contemporary Christian singer, Russ Taff, tells his story through many tears, of how God walked him through, after decades of ignoring his alcoholic addiction.
Tears flow like a river through valleys of our broken lives, and lead to the ocean of grace where only Jesus can pick us up and wash us off. Nothing else works.
From the song I Cry, Taff sings:
“When peace cannot be found, and sleep won’t visit me tonight. A restless mind that I can’t tame, how off the floor, I call Your name. Sign of silence and the tears begin to fall. I cry and You’re the One who hears me calling. I fall so easily but You’re there to catch me. Say the words that heal me. I’m safe when I’m with you. You touch my eyes and I can see.”