I experienced two fractures in my life, both occuring when I was a child. The first was my leg. I fell off a bunkbed as a tender, evidently fragile-boned five year old. I won’t go into the details of how I sort of threw myself off the bed, angry at my mom, instead I’ll focus on the pain, the intense pain that followed. We were in the city of Jacobabad in Pakistan, far from good medical care. My parents weren’t sure how serious this was so we waited overnight. I will never forget that night. I came in and out of sleep, pain waking me up at every move, my pain medication that of my mom’s soothing voice reading to us from the book Rainbow Garden. The next day we drove along bumpy roads to get to a mission hospital in the city of Sukkur. I ended up with a cast on my leg from ankle to thigh.

The second fracture happened when I was 11 while playing the child’s game “Steal the Bacon.” I got the bacon, but I fell onto my left wrist. Again I felt the intense pain, the pain of a fractured bone.

You never forget the excruciating pain of a physical fracture. Medical professionals describe bone pain as deeper, sharper, and more intense than muscle pain. Yet, as hard as that pain is, emotional fractures in families, friendships, and societies cause far more pain. And unlike fractured bones, a cast or brace put on by a skilled physician is not available.

While many have never had fractured bones, my guess is that most of us know the pain of fractured relationships. Most of us know the pit in the stomach, the sleepless nights, the grieving too deep for tears that comes as a result of these fractures. We would give anything for a cast, anything for pain medication, anything to relieve the deep ache.

I’m in a season of fractures, fractures that I don’t know what to do with, fractures that cloud my vision and hurt to the bone. These are fractures that have few answers. In addition, I live in a society that has profound fractures. Fractures that, though they be societal, have shards that reach into families and friendships. These too are fractures with few answers.

And if the fractures are not difficult enough, the public response is deafening. So deafening that I find I can’t think for myself.

Layered in with all the fractures are people. Beloved, beautiful, made in God’s image people. People who on one hand drive me crazy and on the other fill me with compassion. People who come with profoundly difficult stories, people who are angry, people who are rejoicing, and many, many who don’t know how to show love.

I was walking by Boston’s Harbor yesterday evening with a heavy heart, thinking about fractures and about people. There is a public art display that has just been put up around the Harborwalk. It features the sculptures of Michael Alfano – a gifted artist. All of the sculptures are extraordinary, but one in particular hit my soul. A dove on one side turns into a hawk on the other. In between are two outstretched hands. The inscription says this:

In Peace Offering, the dove conveys the hope for peace, while its tail transforms into a hawk, representing hostility. The dove’s wings become open hands, which might be ours, in an asking, weighing, or offering pose. Or they might belong to a larger force that welcomes two people to dialogue.

Michael Alfano – Peace Offering on Harborwalk

“The soft overcomes the hard; the gentle overcomes the rigid. Everyone knows this is true but few can put it into practice.”

The Tao

I felt extraordinary peace as I saw this sculpture and read the description, for this is a piece that challenges me to keep my hands and my heart open – open to change, open to dialogue, open to listen, and above all – open to show love.

The battles and fractures in our hearts rarely take place in public. They take place in the dead of night, when noone is around to witness them. They take place in the early morning hours of begging for mercy. They take place in the wordless prayers of our souls.

I don’t know what your wordless prayers are today. We can only know our own, and that is enough. What I do know is that I long to be a dove in a world that rewards hawks. I long to open my hands in a peace offering in a world that asks me to close them. I long to see God and people first, and the pain of my own fractures second.

I long for the day where the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the broken are made whole, and hearts no longer break from fractures. Until that day I hold to the comfort that comes through the author of all beauty and art and I offer up my hands to the One who knows best how to use them.

[Image by Carola68 Die Welt ist bunt…… from Pixabay.]

[Sculpture Photo Credit – Michael Alfano website photo by Adrien Sipos]

The Exhaustion of Reacting

Let me describe the scene:

I’ve just read something controversial on the web. It may be a blog, a news article, an editorial – whatever, the point is it bothers me.  I believe it’s wrong or ignorant or ill-informed or many other adjectives. I begin to read the comments. There are strong reactions on both sides. With each comment I’m either vigorously nodding my head with a silent “yes! exactly!” or shaking it emphatically with a “are you kidding me? are you an idiot?”.

And of course, I have to add my comment, my voice … important it is, so compelling, so necessary.

And then there’s a link – to someone else who’s reacted. And I go to that link and read another article and the same thing happens. Whether it’s a link to a good source of information or a not so good source doesn’t matter – what matters is that the link draws me in and now I am fully a part of this viral reaction.

And I know I should get back to work, I know this is a terrible use of time, I know that the “Whatsoever is good, lovely, excellent, pure” thoughts left the first time I called someone an idiot for disagreeing. But no matter – because I am locked into this cycle and I need to see it through.

And see it through I do – to the end of the day and on into the night. Each link a little more compelling, each opinion putting its hooks into my mind.

I’m swept along in this swiftly rushing river of comments and reactions and I can’t find my way to the edge. I don’t realize that I’m heading straight towards a steep waterfall – and when I get there, I will go over the edge. I’ll be beyond saving. 

And night-fall comes and I lay down in bed and I am exhausted – exhausted because all day long I’ve been silently reacting. I’ve wasted valuable time and energy on reacting. I’ve been unfaithful to myself and my God because of reacting.

When is it time to stop the madness, to draw the line and say “No more”.

No more because time is a gift, and I’m wasting it. No more because my reacting is affecting no one but myself. My voice is lost and I’ve read so much I don’t even know what I think anymore – I just react.

This reacting on the internet is our modern-day mob mentality. While we look in horror at televised scenes of the Middle East and other parts of the world where mobs take over and terrible things happen, the same thing is taking place all around us. Seemingly the results aren’t as harmful but they are. Through our reacting, reputations are ruined, friendships broken, and minds made more ignorant.

I want to live above this reacting but it will take discipline and living counter-culture; it will take humility and realizing that my voice isn’t that important. It will take courage and help.

How about you? Are you exhausted from reacting and want to live above the fray? Or is this not your struggle? Let’s talk about this!

How Do I Eat Turkey With a Side Dish of Conflict?

Turkey doesn’t taste very good when the side dish is conflict. Any family knows that. If someone walks away from the table angry or offended, the turkey sits, rock solid, at the pit of our stomachs. We nervously drink water or wine, laugh uneasily, and our lips get dry. “Pumpkin pie, anyone?” says the peacemaker, known by some as that family member in denial.

But no one wants pumpkin pie and the holiday is suddenly tainted.  

This year turkey comes with conflict. Not family conflict but conflict across the world – ancient conflict that seems never to have resolution. Both sides post pictures of dead and wounded children. Both sides scream foul. Both sides feel justified. Both sides lose. 

And food sits solid, and my mouth goes dry, and my heart pounds for people I don’t know, have never met — people who are dying. Moms who are weeping over toddlers with gunshot wounds to their heads and sons who will never get married.

God is weeping. On this holiday that can be understood worldwide, that is at its heart not culture-bound, this holiday of giving thanks, there is a taint and God is weeping.

And I ask myself the questions that have been asked by many before me, and will be asked by many after me:

How do I rejoice with family while others are weeping over their dead?

How do I feast on turkey while others go hungry?

How do I bask in safety while others are drowning in rocket launches?

How do I enjoy good when others are surrounded by evil?

How do I not feel guilty when I have so much, others so little?

I sit quietly with a hot homemade latte, milk steamed to perfection. Psalm 27 blurs in front of my eyes – until I reach verse 13 and then suddenly the words come into focus. “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” I read on to verse 14 “Wait for the Lord, Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord” 

And as I wait I slowly begin to deal with the “How” questions. I give thanks for my family and I pray mercy and comfort for those who are burying their dead; I anticipate the delight of turkey and stuffing even as I buy the homeless man coffee and breakfast; I bow in humble gratefulness for a warm and safe house and I beseech God that the rockets will stop, that a cease-fire will be achieved; I kneel in thanksgiving for the good that surrounds me, for common grace, and I pray for deliverance from the evil one; I ask for a proper response to my guilt and pray I will be prompted by God to serve those with less.

With grateful thanksgiving and humility I move forward — That is my ‘How’. 

Thanksgiving, One Thousand Gifts

 This beautiful poem comes from a friend who has given permission to share. A Prayer for Peace by Pari Ali

Enough is Enough!
Hatred through the torn land sweeps
while Isaac and Ishmael weep
as brother’s slaughtered by brother
each bent on destroying the other
branches of father Abraham’s tree
living up to Cain’s dreaded legacy
in heaven an anguished Adam cries
as helplessly he watches his sons die

Choosing to Remember -Remembrance Day 11.11.12

poppies, remembrance dayNovember 11th is Remembrance Day Sunday in Canada (and Great Britain and in several other European nations and throughout the Commonwealth). This is the day Canadians remember those who have died in conflict: in the Boer War, in the Great War and in World War 2, with US forces in Vietnam, under the United Nations in Korea, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and in various peacekeeping missions around the world. Americans similarly commemorate Veterans Day. Poppies take the place of profile pictures as we remember and say thank you.

There are other ongoing conflicts around the world where hatred and violence seemingly prevail. And as I approach Remembrance Day, I have to ask aloud: Who’s remembering the victims of those conflicts? Who are the peacemakers? Who speaks out for the innocent? For those who have no voice? For those the world has forgotten?

The persecuted church remains largely undefended and forgotten.

Because of God’s grace, my dad is the survivor of one such forgotten moment of conflict. What lasted only a few minutes has changed the 75 people in attendance forever. The moment was short, but the effects continue, even up until the present.  On November 11th I ask you to join me in remembering. Let this be a token event that calls to mind countless other events happening all around the world. Let us remember.

My parents served as missionaries to Pakistan from 1979 until 2003. They lived out their lives in the tiny desert town of Layyah in the heart of the Punjab. There they raised their two children, my brother, Neil, and me. As a family we grew to love Pakistan: her culture, her food, her people. Pakistanis in return loved us. They accepted us. They welcomed us. We attended hundreds of weddings, funerals, festivals, ceremonies. We celebrated Christmas and Easter with dear Pakistani brothers and sisters, Aunts and Uncles. Even now when Neil and I go home for Christmas with our spouses and our children we sing Urdu Christmas Carols and enjoy Chicken Curry and Mutton Pulau together. Pakistan has become a part of who we are.

In March 2002 my dad was in Islamabad with a Pakistani friend, Rashid. They were there to welcome some new American colleagues who would be flying into the Islamabad International Airport. Dad and Uncle Rashid arrived in the capital city a few days early to run some errands and to take care of some business. While they were there they decided, at the last moment, to attend church on March 17th at the Protestant International Church in Islamabad. The church was located near the diplomatic enclave. It was a safe area of the city. They had no second thoughts about attending.

Midway through the service, after the children had been dismissed to attend children’s church in the basement of the church, two gunmen entered through the back of the building. They began to lob grenades into the congregation. All was suddenly chaotic and smoky. The bombs that went off were loud and horrific. There were screams and scramblings. Instinctively my dad knew to hit the ground. An undetonated grenade had landed right by his feet. Uncle Rashid, didn’t immediately fall to the ground. In the end the shrapnel from his own eyeglasses penetrated his eyes and his vision was lost.

That was a day our family will never forget. Five people died that day. Many more were injured. The nightmare still plays itself out most nights when my dad sleeps. He will likely forever suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He lost both his eardrums that day. Since then he only hears, and even then not completely, when he’s wearing hearing aids. He will always remember.

I will also always remember the story of Mahmood. Mahmood was my dad’s friend. One day he sincerely wanted a Bible to read. He took it to heart. Soon afterwards he came to visit my dad. He had begun to believe in Jesus. He was changed and full of joy and enthusiasm. It was a thrilling transformation.

Less than two months later my parents received word that Mahmood had been murdered. He was driving his vehicle and he drove over the bank and into the canal. It was later revealed that his brakes had been tampered with. His brothers and his father were most likely involved. There was too much at stake for them to have a brother and a son betray his faith. For them it seemed that if Mahmood chose Jesus he was rejecting them, their families, their faith, their traditions. They couldn’t handle the shame. They killed him.

Today I choose to remember.

I remember Mahmood, who died for his new-found faith. I remember the others like him who are persecuted and martyred for simply believing in Jesus. I remember those who died in the Protestant International Church on that fateful day in March 2002. I remember the injured.

On this Remembrance Day will you please join me in remembering those others have forgotten? There are silent victims of persecution that no one remembers. There are conflicts where the victims die quietly, buried in graves without markers. There is no bestseller written about them, often there is not even and article or obituary.

Every day there are those who die for their faith and for their convictions. Let us be the ones who remember. Let us begin today. Let us thank God for their lives. And let us remember their families who yet grieve.


Crash test between a 1996 Ford Explorer and 20...

Tires squealed as we narrowly missed hitting the small white sedan in front of us. It was Monday morning and we were driving toward the on-ramp of the highway, headed to a community health center south of Boston. We looked at each other, relief on our faces when suddenly my friend looked in the mirror and shouted “Oh no!” Out of nowhere barreled a massive, grey, steel vehicle.


Metal on metal.

Heads jerking back. 

Voices raised in panic.

The SUV hit us in the rear of the car and then sideswiped the passenger side of the vehicle. It was over in seconds and we sat in the car, seat belts tight, breathing prayers and hard sighs of gratitude that no one was hurt.

Police came. Information was exchanged. Tears fell. Reports were filed. And by the time we got to our meeting we were exhausted. It had been a Monday morning collision.

The thing about car accidents is the ripple effect they have. It’s not just the collision. It’s the aftermath; the insurance hassle, the body shop, the quote from insurance, the arguing with bureaucrats for fair payment, not least the replay in our minds of steel on steel colliding. The “if only’s” that abound.

Sometimes conflicts are like serious collisions. Glass breaks, tires squeal, air bags pop out breaking teeth and bruising faces, injury is obvious. Other times conflict acts more like a fender bender, where there is seemingly minimal damage but as you leave you feel angry. The crash has made you late to work, you have to get an insurance estimate, your week has suddenly taken on urgent tasks. Furthermore, the person who hit you didn’t seem sorry.

In serious collisions we wear the damage on our bodies, emotions are raw and strong, people are in shock, emergency care is needed and the car is totaled. Serious conflicts are the same — things can never go back to where they were. The relationship, like the car, seems like a total loss. And totaled cars are discarded; sold to the highest bidder for parts.

It’s what seems to happen with some relationships. They feel discarded, useful only as parts sold to the highest bidder.

Occasionally there is someone who goes to the auction and sees the car, but instead of seeing the dented metal and smashed glass, they see the possibilities. They understand that the car can be bought and re-built.

It will never be like it was, but it’s still functional, still useful, still able to be driven.

It’s this picture I prefer when I think about relationships. Can I be the person that, instead of seeing total ruin, sees hard work and potential? Sees within all the brokenness, possibilities born from smashed hearts and dented feelings? It will never be the same; it can never be the same — but can something of value and use emerge from those hurt parts?

The Monday morning collision was hard, and I’m still a little shaken. But it’s given me a chance to think about these other, far more difficult collisions – the collisions that call for me to make a choice; discard as total loss or get back with potential to rebuild.

How about you? Have you been in a car collision recently? How about a people collision? If so what was the aftermath and how are you picking up the broken glass? 

*Important note! The picture above is NOT a picture of my accident! Mine was not so serious!

So.Many.Stories – At the Principal’s Office

Today I am delighted to have Dorit Sasson takes us into a story of cross-cultural conflict and confrontation. I met Dorit through the So.Many.Stories project and you will see her bio at the end of the post. 

The bare white principal’s office is now a place of confrontation. The fact that I am a newly arrived English elementary teacher at a development town in Israel hasn’t sensitized loud-mouthed teacher to collaborate with me. When I finally told Tziona, our mentor, the real deal of our collaboration, I knew that I would have to work even harder to make my silent “teacher” voice heard. The voice I perhaps didn’t know existed.

The aggressive principal speaks. (I can still hear Lina’s voice) “Yael,” Lina says.  “Dorit’s a new teacher. If you’re both teaching the same classes, I don’t understand why you are both working separately. So, ma koreh, what’s going on?” Lina asks. I have to wonder what looks tighter: Lina’s intent expression or her bun.

Yael, the other teacher who prefers to teach English “her way,” doesn’t say anything.  Tziona sustains our eye contact long enough just to reassure what she has said to me before, Yehiyeh besder, “it will be okay.” But we both know it will be a long way. She leans forward, crosses her legs a bit and says, “We need to find a way to work things out together. You both can’t continue working in isolation. It makes no sense.”

Yael looks at me. I nod.

Okay, it’s time to make my silence heard.

There’s more that Lina and loud-mouthed teacher need to know. Much more.

For example, what about the time when I introduced myself to her classes and all I got was a Mona-Lisa smile …from one student?

Or when I tried to “socialize” with loud-mouthed teacher and all I heard was the noise of crunching carrots.

There is no cultural-linguistic shield to protect me now. (it’s a confrontation – how do you rely on your Israeli smarts)

I try to discern the “loud-mouthed” teacher’s eyes from her thick rimmed glasses but the light refracts what appears to be a stare. I know she’s thinking “go home you American. I take no prisoners. I’m better than you and you’re not going to change the way I work.”

Since the beginning of school, I’ve honored the Israeli teaching motto of “don’t smile before Chanukah,” and so perhaps I’ve received Lina’s goodwill. But now I have to find the right Hebrew voice. To articulate Hebrew assertively. To undo my silence. But between Lina’s tight-fisted bun and zippered mouth and Tziona’s fidgety look, I’m hoping I won’t need to talk.

Loud mouth teacher is the first to speak. She’s of course the one with “kfiyoot” – the seniority. She moves her hands in and out as if to open an oven. “Tziona,” she says raising her voice. “It’s close to impossible. We teach at different hours in different places.”

Loud-mouthed teacher now points to me. “She teaches small groups. I teach the large classes.”

“Yael, you don’t have to work together on everything. There’s no point if you have the same book and grades and you’re both working in isolation.” Tziona says. Lina nods affirmatively.

Loud-mouthed teacher looks at me. The words don’t come.

“How about if Dorit pulled out some of the lower-performing students from your group and worked with them?” Tziona suggests.

Ze lo ya’avod, it won’t work,” loud-mouthed teacher says.


“Because …they are at different levels.”

            What does that have to do with anything?

I say something that I hope will turn the discourse around. Even though I am still figuring out which word to say, I speak anyhow.
“I think the students I teach are at a lower performing level. They cause problems.” I am both nervous and relieved that I’ve got now everyone’s attention.

“Exactly. That’s why I don’t think it’s good to take my students out.” Loud mouthed teacher says. Her words rise like huge hot air balloons in this small office.

Aval achav hadivarim nirgeo, but now I feel things have settled down.” I say in a calm Hebrew voice.

Ze lo yishaney kloom, it still won’t make a difference,” loud-mouthed teacher says. “It’s too difficult of a situation.” She still won’t look at me so I look to Tziona for support.

“And if Dorit takes the hours she has with the non-readers and works individually with one or two students?” Tziona suggests.

“Still won’t work.”

“”Yael, you’ve got to be flexible here.” Tziona now speaks more emphatically. “This is a very difficult situation.”

“Yael, I don’t understand you. We’re talking about the students here.” The aggressive principal says something I didn’t expect to hear. “Give it a chance.”

“Okay, I’ll give it a try, but I still don’t think it will be successful.” Yael says.

All I hear is the “ani” for “I.”

Tziona looks at me, “How do you feel about that, Dorit?”

“That’s fine. I have worksheets prepared for their level and everything.”

Tziona nods in approval. “That’s a good start.”

“But it’s a difficult group. A harder group.” Yael says.

“Is there anything you want to say Dorit?” Lina asks.


We talk it out – in their language.

Not mine.
We don’t really find a solution in their language.
Not mine.

When we leave Lina’s office, I whisper to Tziona, “That wasn’t easy. With Yael, I mean.”

Tziona says, “I know. She’s difficult.”


“It’s not going to be easy.”

I go home and write about the lesson and the day in my language. This is what I wrote:

Today, I taught another lesson to fourth graders who are learning another language that just happens to be my mother tongue.
Only I’m not so sure if this cultural classroom is mine or theirs.
I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Dorit Sasson is the author of Giving Voice to the Voiceless and a speaker. She uses the power of story to help others create their life and business in story. Download your free MP3, Story Manifesto: A Guide To Stepping into the Authentic Voice and Vision of Your Story, at When you do, you’ll receive a complimentary subscription to the “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” ezine, including a transformational tip of the week.

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