by Sarah Cowan
My blood boiled as I drove east on Poplar Avenue, late for work and school. The object of my frustration sat calmly in the back seat. That tow-headed bundle of defiance, age four, quietly looked out the window at the passing traffic and seemed oblivious to the massive battles that had occurred earlier at home: battles about his shoes, battles over eating something (anything!) for breakfast, battles over brushing his teeth for goodness sake.
After stewing for a while as we headed toward the now-late morning sun, and summoning all the patience that was left within me, I said, “Billy, that was a rough morning. When we are trying to get out the door in the morning, I need your cooperation. You did not cooperate this morning. How can we fix that?”
“But, Mommy,” came the small voice from the back, “Today my cooperation was broken.”
I could relate. Truthfully, my cooperation feels broken quite frequently. Sometimes, we just don’t feel like being good and helpful. We live in a broken world and we contribute to the brokenness of the world by what we do, even unintentionally. Broken relationships, broken trust, things done and left undone. We have a bad day at work, we come home and speak sharply to our spouse or children. We use alcoholism or racism or work-aholism to try to cover the chasms in our relationships. We fight, we war, we exploit, we manipulate and consequently create divisions – or sometimes we just turn a blind eye to it all, allowing the brokenness to continue unabated.
We are broken beings, trying to do good, often failing. Yes, sometimes our cooperation is just simply broken and there’s not much to do about it. Except to ask for help from the One who makes all things whole, the One who puts all things back together and heals all wounds. I think about that now whenever the bread is broken during the Eucharist. Christ and his body on Earth works through the brokenness to heal, to nurture, to feed, to repair the rips. Christ works through a kind word, a hug, an apology, or a sermon that resonates.
As I drove down Poplar Avenue, forgiveness began to flow. Sympathy flowed out to the four-year-old sitting in the back seat. Forgiveness flowed inward as I allowed myself to be a less-than-perfect mom. Understanding surrounded me as I gave thanks for God’s healing love. I drove east toward the rising sun.
Sarah Cowan is a lifelong Episcopalian who has been a member at Holy Communion for four years. Originally from San Diego, California, she is currently the director of communication at St. George’s Independent School. She is married to Curt and they have two children, Corinne, seven, and Billy, five.