Searching for emotional plugs

There is a brokenness I do not understand.

It shows itself in strange places and when we are not looking. It shatters quiet and steals happiness as a pin takes water from a balloon.

I wish I could wrap my arms around it when I see it in the face of a friend. I want to gather all the pieces again for the ones I love or for the strangers whose eyes have lost their light.

One time the shower door shattered while my old roommate was washing her hair. She screamed, and I thought she had slipped on the soap and fallen, but then she started laughing, so I knew everything was okay. Tiny aqua shards were all over the bathroom, though: under the rug, behind the trash can, in the crevices with the mildew. We swept them up with a wet broom and carried the frame of the door out to the dumpster, but we sometimes still find tiny remnants on the undersides of our shoes.

We wondered as we swept why the door just exploded like that in the middle of her shower; she hadn’t even touched it. Our landlord wouldn’t pay to have the door replaced. He said it had broken because we had slammed it open too many times.

Maybe he was right.

Maybe the shattering comes from too much opening and too much closing and too much force. Or maybe it is the steam repeated every morning. Or maybe the contrast with the breeze that comes in through the open window becomes too much to sustain.

We scuttle to reach our arms around ourselves, or others, to hold it all together. Yet something always seeps out. We plug the tiny holes that our disappointments have left us with, but the leaks spring somewhere else.

This happens with nations, with lovers, with families, with friends, and none of us can ever seem to find the reasons. It is as if we could just find something that would wrap itself around them, hold them, it would be okay. We all search for that everywhere: peace talks, college degrees, important careers, and relationships; but those too trickle out.

Where is the resurrection?

I have sought it everywhere: institutions, literature, religion, and psychology, even my own scribblings. And this Easter weekend I sought it still. I thought of spring and how things promise to be born again. I thought of a tradition that promises that we too can be reborn out of our own little deaths, that we can start again, that we fall down and, ultimately, we do get up.

My mind grasps for the certainty this tradition once gave me, and sometimes I do manage to take hold.

More often it is a struggle to trust the things I’ve come to question, but like spring, the struggle always has me returning to the place where I began. I’m beginning to think this handhold trust I’m lately learning is more like faith than the blind acceptance I used to know.

It is a trust that says there is a healing from the brokenness that surrounds us, a satiate for the hunger we rarely acknowledge. It is a trust that is reborn slowly every time I see a friend step in to mend another’s broken life.

The truth, though, is that we just don’t have enough fingers to plug all the leaks, neither in ourselves, nor in the ones we love. We must trust that there is someone greater whose hands are large enough to hold us all, whose fingers cup to catch the hope we would surely otherwise spill.

Angie Henderson is a graduate student in the School of International Studies

April 5, 2002


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.