A broken journey...

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, 
continue to live your lives in him, 
rooted and built up in him, 
strengthened in the faith as you were taught, 
and overflowing with thankfulness.

~ Colossian 2:6-7 NIV

I was heartbroken.

I'd long admired Ann's Way of Light Wreath, so I was thrilled when her gifted son Caleb crafted more wreaths and donates all proceeds to Compassion. I thought about it for less than five seconds before placing an order. I'd earned just enough money in November to buy a Way of Light Wreath and cover my Compassion child sponsorship. The timing could not have been more perfect.

The rich aroma of linseed oil rose from the package as I opened the end flap and removed the contents. I knew the wreath had been crafted in three connecting pieces - a center spiral with 25 candle slots for Advent and two extensions for increasing the candle slots to 40 for Lent, but there were six spiral pieces in the envelope. The Lent extensions were in two perfect pieces but the center Advent spiral was broken in three places, and in my hand I held the Lenten cross, broken in two.

Quite confident that every piece had been perfectly intact when it left Caleb's hands, I had no intentions of requesting a replacement. The pieces seemed to fit together like a puzzle. A little glue overnight and it will be good as new, I thought. Even if  it isn't, it's all for Compassion, and that's good enough for me.*

Hiding my disappointment from my family, I began the work of fitting the pieces together as though it was a perfectly normal thing to do. The house was a mess. Nearly every table and countertop was covered with the Christmas decorations we'd taken out of storage but not yet put in its proper place. Pain and fatigue had forced me to move slowly, and there was much unfinished decorating to accomplish, but this wreath was a priority. I cleared a space on the dining room table, placed the broken pieces on a flat surface, and carefully super-glued them together.

It's a broken journey to the manger, I thought. Much like me. I smiled.

And I will lead the blind
in a way that they do not know,
in paths that they have not known
I will guide them.
I will turn the darkness before them into light,
the rough places into level ground.
These are the things I do,
and I do not forsake them.

 ~ Isaiah 42:16 ESV

The ESV Study Bible says this about that verse in Isaiah...
No human incapacity can defeat God's purpose of grace. His ways are so counterintuitive to human understanding that those he delivers might as well be blind, in darkness and on rough terrain, but God leads them through.
Incapacitated is an accurate description of me these days....and on a broken path with a few rough places. It's a journey with daily challenges that I do not know...except for the grace that takes me to the manger and the God who will lead me through. And like the candles on that broken wreath, darkness gives way to light.

I treasure this gift of a broken, super-glued wreath. Honest. I wouldn't replace it for the world. It is a daily personal encouragement that there is more light and more grace for this journey I'm on.

I privately and quietly joined "one thousand gifts" here, to "overflow with thankfulness" with 1000 gifts in 25 days - a decision I made before I knew just how rough this 25 day journey would be.

But God knew and I wouldn't be surprised if He isn't responsible for the broken wreath and the 25 day challenge, for it is impossible to simultaneously wallow in self pity and overflow with thankfulness.

~ ~ ~

One year later, I remain incapacitated - more so than last year. As I prepare this beautiful broken wreath for this year's Advent journey, this edited repost and photos from 2010, remind me to do so with a heart overflowing with thankfulness. 

*Ann offered to have Caleb contact me about the broken pieces, but I believe this broken wreath was a gift just like it is and I wouldn't trade it for a new one for anything.

Linking with Charity and The High Calling Advent Writing Project