A couple of weeks ago I filled out a little form applying to join the launch team for Ann Voskamp’s new book, The Broken Way. Friday, I received an email saying I had been selected. Being the good little blogger I am, I instagrammed and tweeted, and then this happened:
Our friendship now firmly established, Ann and I have some things to tell you. She has a new book coming, and it’s about to break us all wide open.
Sitting to write this post, it is tempting to try and channel my inner-Ann, with poetic phrases and poignant metaphor. But let’s be real: I trade more in the subtle currency of sarcasm and pith.
I’m not that poetic. I’m not that flowery. And perhaps that’s why I love Ann’s writing so much. (And, to recap, Ann tweeted me once, so we are #firstname friends.)
Maybe I love Ann’s writing because she figured out a way to devote multiple paragraphs to the celebration of shredded cheese. (One Thousand Gifts, chapter 3, if you don’t know what I am talking about.)
Gratitude for cheese is always something I can get behind.
Perhaps I am a fan of Ann’s writing because our modern world has replaced poetry with sound bites. We’ve sacrificed 140 line sonnets for 140 character tweets. Perhaps we have forgotten there can be a lot to say about important things.
Speaking, describing, illustrating – being vulnerable – at the highest emotional place is risky, and people might say isn’t that a little over the top?
And I think – yes. Yes, it is. Because if there was ever a topic to go over the top about, isn’t it Jesus?
Should speaking about Jesus, and the Cross, and the blood poured out on our behalf incite only emotions that rest in the nebulous middle? Words like pleasant? Agreeable? Nice?
Isn’t Jesus’s brokenness on our behalf worth a lot of words? A lot of vivid, expressive, histrionic words?
Ann is a master at words. And she writes them down for us. She is a self-described broken vessel, nothing but a conduit of grace. The Broken Way is for all of us who are broken. And who among us isn’t broken?
(And I don’t mean to draw attention, but wasn’t that last sentence just so very, very Ann? I’m working on my flowering.)
As a member of the midwife delivery team for the birthing of this book, I get to be a part of a private launch-team Facebook group. In barely 72 hours, people have shared griefs that make me weep. It’s a hurting world, and we all hurt. Apparently none of us gets to skip the hurting. It’s a requirement of Christ-followers.
But here’s the thing: the hurting isn’t something to simply be endured. The hurting is the thing. The brokenness is not a hiccup or a speed bump on the way to joy. The miraculous-ness of the Gospel tells us, somehow, it is the joy.
But how can that be?
I suspect The Broken Way will be a bit of a navigational guide. Just a beat-up sailor friend, one who has faced down some deathly storms and come out on the other side, sharing her story on how to ride the surges of brokenness.
You know the quote:
“Christianity is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”
I suspect The Broken Way is also a shelter gathering. A group of beggars gathering to remind each other where the Bread is. The Bread that was broken on our behalf. Manna that comes just enough. Never more, never less.
So we gather: battered sailors, hungry beggars. Daughters, wives, friends. Partakers of cheese. Partakers of the holy, broken Bread that is the source of all sustenance.
The Farmer comes in from the barn, leaves a bucket from the henhouse at the back door with his boots. I can hear him washing up at the mudroom’s porcelain sink. He steps into the kitchen. I look up from the dishes. He’s seen it already. The man can read my eyes better than he reads the skies. Sometimes all our unspoken broken speaks louder than anything we could ever say. He reads my slow breaking over the kid’s lightning- bolt news and all my not-enoughness that I can’t even grope through the pain to find words for.
He pulls me into himself, enfolds me. And then, into the quiet, he says it so soft I almost miss it, what I have held on to more than a thousand times since.
“You know—everything all across this farm says the same thing, you know that, right?” He waits till I let him look me in the eye, let him look into me and all this fracturing. “The seed breaks to give us the wheat. The soil breaks to give us the crop, the sky breaks to give us the rain, the wheat breaks to give us the bread. And the bread breaks to give us the feast.”
Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way
We shall break bread together when The Broken Way releases October 25th. I will receive a free copy of the book, but all thoughts and text are my own. My #firstname friend Ann is not at all responsible for my weak attempts at emulating her poetic prose. That’s all on me.
More information at www.thebrokenway.com.
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