Saturday, June 2, 2007

Stronger at the Broken Places

I once had a wise teacher who told me about making balsa wood airplanes as a child.

While flying them out in a field on a windy day, one of his favorite planes crashed and broke. He was sad to see the crumpled, shattered body lying in a heap. It appeared to be utterly ruined.

However, after the initial disappointment, he picked up the pieces and carefully, painstakingly, glued them back together. Then he left it for a while to sit and dry. Finally, when he was confident it was ready, he took it back out to fly again.

Amazingly, that repaired plane became one of his best flyers. Although scarred and perhaps less beautiful that the unbroken planes, that one was so sturdy that even when it took an occasional tumble, it didn't break again. It had become stronger at the broken places because of the glue.

Our lives are often like that. We have heartaches and disappointments. We have circumstances that make us feel as if we have crashed into the ground. But if we can pick ourselves up and glue those crumpled pieces of our heart back together, we too can become stronger at the broken places, with new found resilience to face the storms the world may bring.

During a particularly difficult time in my life, I received the card you see pictured here. As it says: "Sometimes when you least expect it, life gives you a big ol' sock in the nose." Then, on the inside it reads:"Not to worry. With time the pain will pass, and from it you will have gained experience, which gives you information, which gives you objectivity,which gives you wisdom, which gives you truth, which gives you freedom from having to get a sock in the nose again." Every now and then, when I am facing struggles in navigating the current of my world, it helps to pull out the card and to remember the story of that broken airplane.


sarah said...

The phrase "become stronger at the broken places", which is also the title of this post is a verbatim quote ripped off from Ernest Hemmingway. While it is always good to express oneself through writing, especially during difficult times, it is equally important to credit a source, and not pass off someone else's work as our own original thought.

Belladonna said...


I would absolutely agree with you that it is important to credit a source. However, one must be aware of that source to give credit for it. While I read a lot, I am not a fan of Hemingway and was not aware he used this specific phrase.

Just out of curiosity I Googled the phrase and came up with MANY different uses - none of the attributed to Hemmingway.

When I used it in this particular piece I was referring to the story my teacher friend told me about his airplanes. Although the conversation was about 20 yrs ago, I vaguely recall him using those words. He may or may not have gotten it from Hemingway, but more likely picked it from trauma recovery literature where this particular combination of words abounds.

It's also the title of a movie, the title of an article in a theological journal, a song by Tina Shafter, title of a book by James Lee Witt and any number of other things.

Not that sheer numbers is an excuse, but if I have offended Hemingway, I guess I better get in line with a lot of other folks!

CYN' said...

I loved your story, I would love to share this...and I will definately quote you : )