I wrote this poem almost exactly two years ago about some of the people in my hometown. I have moved away now, but they are still people whose faces light up when they see me in town, who hug me and ask how things are and are willing to hear the honest answers. They have taught me more about grace outside of the church than anything within the church walls ever could. Seeing some of them recently reminded me of this poem from two years back, and about how true it still is. They are the reason that I still love my hometown — these people feel like home even though the town doesn’t.
Pieces – An Ode To My Hometown (May 31, 2013)
We’ve worked for years to make a life together.
We’ve celebrated births and birthdays
promotions and graduations
holidays and everydays.
We’ve grieved the loss of
daughters sisters cousins,
brothers sons lovers,
the old and the young we did not want to let go.
We’ve sat in hospitals, backyards, couches,
church chairs and on the carpets at the altars,
in campgrounds and at lunch tables.
A blended family
merged by pain and memory,
by the act of rejoicing and grieving together.
A mosaic of broken pottery,
together it felt like home.
Then it broke again,
bitterness shot through wounded friends,
our hard-work mosaic burst like clay pigeons.
My shotgun blast of truth
was all it took
to ruin the life we knew.
And grace happened.
When one by one,
people picked up the shards,
swept up the dust,
and deliberately decided to put their pieces back in the pot.
They were some people, not a lot.
Their actions and their words
could not be unread:
“Life is broken, but no one’s dead.
Here are my pieces,
I’m willing to build again.
I’ll put in the work to
bring you back to life again.
Let’s make another mosaic
different than the last time.
I don’t know whose pieces you’ll have
but you’ll have mine.”
And they came back to the table
where brokenness is made whole.
Where shattered lives are mixed
where selfless love is bold.
A family was re-cooped,
where hard life is what we do,
where my life can be rebuilt
where I can be made new.
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Jo O’Hanlon is an adventurer and storyteller. She tries to be honest about the ugly and hard parts of life, and the beautiful parts too. This blog is one of the places she shares her thoughts and stories.
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