Broken lives, to my wife, were reflected in the broken tiles of our new Master Bath. “It’s even more beautiful because they were broken!” At first I couldn’t figure out what Amy was talking about. Two weeks earlier, I had our contractor lock Amy out of the master bathroom of the new house we were building.The prior year had been one of difficulty with the adoption of children with broken lives; our oldest children from Russia. I wanted a place for Amy where she could take a break. I had recently visited Brazil and (unbeknownst to Amy) brought back lots of things to decorate a bathroom in a “beach” motif. I even had a hammock styled chair. I told the contractor to turn the bathroom into Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana. When I met with the flooring guy, he brought out several 14 inch squares of stone so I could choose the shades and types of black and white he would use for the wave patterns on the floor. After I made my choice, I asked him where he would get the small fragments to use for the waves. He laughed and told me you don’t order in fragments. “If you want to do something like this,” he explained, “you bring in the squares and take a hammer to them. Then you put them in a tumbler to take off the sharp edges.” He told me that finally they would use the pieces to create the patterns I wanted on the floor. It seemed like a lot of extra work to me, not to mention the waste of some nice, expensive, finished and polished square stone tiles. Oh well. Whatever it took, I was fine with it.
I never imagined that my wife’s favorite part of the bathroom would be the part where she saw broken lives; those shattered tile stones formed into black and white waves.
I had visited the bathroom and viewed its progress over several weeks while Amy was going out of her mind trying to figure out what was happening behind the locked door. I wondered what part of the bathroom would be Amy’s favorite. Would it be the hammock swing, where she could relax and listen to music? Maybe the wood carvings on the wall, or blown up pictures that I had taken, surrounded by frames giving the appearance of a window with a scene of Rio on the outside… I knew she would love the large jetted tub as well as the real plants including a corner that was filled with plants angling up to a shelf near the ten-foot ceiling where a small stone replica of Rio’s famous Cristo Redentor (Christ Redeemer) statue sat. It would be Amy’s own representation of Rio de Janeiro’s statue-topped Corcovado Mountain. I never imagined that my wife’s favorite part of the bathroom would be the part where she saw broken lives; those shattered tile stones formed into black and white waves.
To Amy, broken lives had a purpose: they were to be recreated into masterpieces.
“It’s like my life!” she squealed. “It’s more perfect now than before it was broken!” Amy had lived in an abusive home until she went into foster care when she was fifteen. And while many foster parents are saints, that wasn’t how it was in Amy’s case. The forms of abuse changed but didn’t leave. Many broken lives went through that home, only to be shattered. As Amy and I married, she decided that she would have the family of her dreams, even though she would never be the child in that family. She went to work gathering the fragments of her crumbled life and rather than trying to put them back in their original places, she recreated them into a new life that was even better than it would have been without the bad that she had lived in her childhood and youth. To Amy, broken lives had a purpose: they were to be recreated into masterpieces. Sometimes I wonder if just like our flooring contractor, God takes extra effort in breaking apart what seems to be perfect, in order to create works of art from broken lives.
Amy does lock herself in the master bathroom for a break from time to time. But often she can be found stooped on that fragmented tile floor with my adopted daughters, showing them the beauty that can come if they put the effort into recreating their broken lives that were so brutally shattered, half a world away. And then mother and daughters go to work on their new masterpiece; the re-rendering of even more broken lives.
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