I am picking through the rubble again. This fall, it seems, has been a season of dying. And I am sifting through the rubble, trying to find the beautiful things, the pieces that still fit, the good in the middle of this mess. I am sifting through the rubble of a place I used to belong. I am sifting through the rubble of the place I used to call safe, I used to call home. I am sifting through the rubble of the way things were supposed to go. I am sifting through the rubble of the dreams I had built for six months, two years, ten years from now. I am ashamed of how much I was already living there.
I am sifting through the rubble, and that alone is painful. My soul feels cracked and bruised and worn, and sifting through the rubble rubs the wounds raw. But what else is there to do? I do not want to leave the good behind. I have already lost too much.
The first time, I had just begun to see the cracks in the foundation. I thought the patch work was going just fine. This can be fixed, this can be salvaged, I didn’t expect anyone to hit the button and watch the whole thing come down. I at least expected to be warned. But I wasn’t. The whole thing came crashing down, and I wasn’t the only one still inside. At least there were people to search through the rubble with. We have been searching, sifting, patching each other’s wounds, handing each other the good pieces. The work is slow, the wounds are deep, but I think we are all going to make it out alive. Limping, but alive.
This time there are less gaping wounds. Just a hollow emptiness. Where there once were warmth and walls there is now a cold cement floor and the sound of the wind. The cracks had turned to holes long ago, and I had even stopped trying to patch anything long ago. But it finally came down, the roof over my head, and I am left standing in the rubble.
Sometimes, while searching through the rubble, I dream of setting whole thing aflame. I’ve lit a match more than once, only to snuff it out just before I let it drop to the ground. It turns out I am not someone who burns things to the ground, just someone who thinks about it.
I’ve learned just a tiny bit about burning. I burned my hand on a hot handle last week. I learned at Urgent Care that the amount of pain I was in was a good sign. A third degree burn seers the nerves bad enough that they stop feeling. At the time, I sort of wished I had clung to that handle a little longer. At least then I wouldn’t be in pain.
Not feeling the pain comes with its own costs. You just plain stop feeling. I have just enough hope left to want to avoid that. I have just enough left to believe that my capacity to feel should remain in tact, that it won’t always hurt this bad. I have learned just enough about restoration and redemption, to put the matches away.
Instead, I am sifting through the rubble. I am feeling the grit along my open wounds. I am searching for the pieces that are beautiful.