Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Broken bread…

There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another's wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness…

Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey

It seems to me that this distinction lies at the heart of much that grieves us in our society. There is a deep longing in the heart of each of us for fruitfulness, a longing to really make a difference, to be able to go to our rest feeling that we have truly made a difference. But since we don’t understand about fruitfulness, since society has lied to us about success since our school days, we imagine that that is what we are longing for; and so we strive ever harder to be successful. We may very well achieve success, too, but we find that it is hollow and barren, a dry husk where we had anticipated something very different.

I wonder if this deep disappointment that is inherent in all success may not be the reason why so many people who achieve success seem to go off the rails, falling victim to drink, drugs, misplaced sex, even suicide? For however hard they try, however much success they achieve in their chosen field, be it rock music, football, or finance, they will never experience that fruitfulness for which their hearts long.

This is a spiritual thing. Only God could have put this longing for fruitfulness in our hearts, since this is one of the ways in which we are made in his image. Our strength is not in success, achievement, domination; our strength is that which is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12.9) and our wounds, like Christ’s, are the place of our healing and the heart of our love. Like him (Philippians 3.10), in our little way, we are broken; it is broken bread which feeds, and goes on feeding, each others’ broken hearts, and in so doing, mends our own…

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