When I was seven, my family moved into a new house. It was so new it wasn’t quite finished. After we moved in, a stone mason showed up to build the fireplace in the family room. He brought wheelbarrows full of round grey boulders around to the back yard. If he is going to build a fireplace out of those grey boulders, I thought, it is going to be a really ugly fireplace!
But the mason set to work on those boulders. He turned them over and over until he found a crack or a fissure, and then with a chisel, he worked away at the crack until he split the rock wide open, revealing the beauty of the stone within. Not only were the stones more attractive when they had been broken, but the mortar stuck to them more easily. They were more easily bonded to each other.
In the same way, I have come to believe, when we are polished and successful, we are like those round grey boulders. I find it hard to feel close to people when I only know their blessings and accomplishments. It is when I know their struggles and brokenness that I feel we are really connected.
Leonard Cohen’s song “Anthem” has a few beautiful lines worth remembering: “Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything /That's how the light gets in.” There is a crack in everything. There is a crack in you, a crack in me. That crack is the way the mason’s hammer exposes the beauty within. The crack is the way the light gets in. The crack is the way the grace gets exposed. So forget your perfect offering; it is through your cracks and imperfections that the light gets exposed.