Random Musings: The Shattered Made New

Ever wonder how glass is made? 

Me neither…until it became a random musing for me this week.  

I had no idea that making glass requires sand to be melted – something that can only happen at 3090°F!  

Before the melting process begins, the sand is mixed with sodium carbonate and calcium oxide and, depending on what the glass is to be used for, other chemicals and colors are added as well. 

As the mixture melts, it is stirred until, at just the right time, the glassmaker scoops the substance up onto the end of a blowpipe and blows air through the pipe. The blown air forms a bubble in the molten sand which grows to whatever size the glassmaker intends; the bubble is further shaped by a hand held torch the craftsman also uses.  

There is a lot going on here! But the artisan isn’t done yet. A steam stick and a puffer add the finishing touches to the hot glass once it is removed from the blowpipe. 

Such a lot of work, yet worth the effort considering the beauty of the finished product.  

+ + +

And so begins my random musing…..

Imagine all sorts of beautiful and unique glass shapes sitting on display shelves in a workshop window.  

The light shines through each of them creating magnificent colors reflected throughout the room.  

But then…something rocks the workshop and the glass creations tumble to the floor, shattered and useless….or are they? Not at all! 

Though the original intentions for the glass objects may no longer be possible, there are possibilities yet to be discovered – and the glassmaker knows it!

She wanders among the broken shards carefully picking them up one by one; searching under the now empty shelf and in the dark recesses of the corners of the workshop. 

Every shard matters.

The glassmaker begins again. She examines the pieces and fits them together in new and different ways: mixing shapes, connecting different colors. Both the largest and the very smallest of shards, the brightest, the boldest, the dimmest, and most fragile bits of glass have a place in the new masterpiece – sometimes in the most surprising combinations as unexpected light and color add joy to the new piece.

As the new creation takes shape, the artisan holds the masterpiece strongly together with lead came and solder. 

The memories of what the glass pieces were as individual shapes is not forgotten, but what was shattered has been redeemed into a new wholeness – a thing of beauty previously unimagined. 

What was, is no longer possible. What becomes, is amazing! 

This random musing appears truly random, right?!  

But take a moment and consider: consider where we are as individuals, as a people, as the human race right now. Perhaps my musing isn’t quite so random after all!

The Divine Artisan has beautifully created each member of humanity for a specific purpose within the context of creation. A lot of things must come together for just the right person to come into being at just the right time. 

At that perfect time, the Divine Breath of the Spirit breathed into each of us to give us shape and life.

Not only that, but people have been placed in our lives as instruments in God’s hand to further lead, teach, and refine us before we are released into the world where the light of the Divine is intended to shine through each of us as we live into God’s purpose.

Some of us may seem to shine more brightly than others, but we all reflect God’s light and glory in some glorious and unique way. 

But then….somewhere along the way…something happens…our lives are rocked by circumstance; sometimes the entire world is rocked, just look at recent years: civil and political unrest, pandemic, familial and social relationships strained, growing distrust of anyone ‘not like us,’ a withdrawal into self as we vacillate between apathy and anger toward others.  

We no longer feel like unique and precious beings – just shattered vessels good for nothing but to be cast aside.  

But God is the God of infinite possibilities and endless creative opportunities. 

Our Creator God walks among the shards of humanity, seeking to gather us up, piece by piece – even those of us hiding in the shadows, even those of us who feel we are too small of a sliver to be of any use at all, or too cumbersome and big to fit anywhere anymore.

God has plans to redeem even this shattered time and our shattered lives as the Holy One begins fitting us together in new and beautiful patterns; combining shapes, colors, and sizes in new and surprising ways.  

Folks who never would have thought they ‘fit’ together because they are so ‘very different’; folks who always felt better than or less than others; the bullies and the bullied, the elite and the downtrodden, all find themselves being brought together – a perfect fit in God’s new plan for the future. 

If we are willing to sit in these new, albeit unfamiliar situations and listen to each other’s stories of ‘life before’ we may realize that we have more in common than we could have possibly imagined!  We do fit together! The light we once carried by ourselves takes on a new brilliance when it is placed side by side with the lights of others! 

In this joyful realization we find ourselves held strongly in place through the came and solder of the Holy Spirit Who once breathed life into us and now sustains our life together.  

What was, is no longer possible. What becomes, is amazing!

Ah, but here, my musing runs amok……Glass is passive. Humans have choice. 

After the world stops rocking, humans must choose what to make of the shards of the life that was. 

Will we attempt to futilely glue whatever pieces of the past we can find back together, even though it will never be as ‘good as new’?

Or will we choose to become part of something new and wondrous – a masterpiece of shards redeemed and recreated through the fitting together of our previously shattered lives; a new creation that includes and values every single one of us in order for the masterpiece to become complete and the light of God’s glory to shine in joyful wonder?

God gives us the choice – remain shattered or become part of something new.  Seems like a no-brainer to me! I’ve always been partial to Technicolor!

And to God be the glory!  AMEN.

Published by Pastor Catharine

Retired ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. I have a Master's of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry (with an emphasis on Spiritual Transformation of Community) from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

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