“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places.” Joe Biden quoted these words from Ernest Hemingway’s novel A Farewell to Arms last night in his speech at the Democratic convention. Coming from a man who lost his first wife and one year old daughter in a car accident in 1972 and then lost his 46 year old son Beau just last year from brain cancer, these are not hollow words. Vice President Biden is all too well acquainted with the fragility and preciousness of life. After the tragedy in 1972, Biden liked to walk around seedy neighborhoods at night when he thought there was a better chance of finding a fight. He writes “I had not known I was capable of such rage … I felt God had played a horrible trick on me.” Biden seems to me to be a person who leads from the strength of the broken places.
Learning to live and lead from the strength of our broken places is a great way I would describe the purpose of church. And in these days of such violence, anxiety, and fear, where brokenness in our world is abundant and plentiful, learning to live from the strength of the broken places feels like an absolute survival skill.
It is so good to be back– I had a lovely and restful summer leave– though what a month to be away from you all! So much violence going on in the world: terrorist attacks in Nice, more black people killed at the hands of law enforcement, police officers killed– so much anxiety and fear. And yet we each go on, paying our bills (or trying to!), taking care of our families, going to the grocery store.
Here is to learning to live and lead from the strength of our broken places.