The Gift of Brokenness
We are called to give our lives to others, so you and I can bear fruit. And all brokenness, and all dying, and all suffering is there to allow you to enter into solidarity with the whole human family, and to give yourselves to others so that your life can bear fruit. God asks you not to have a successful life but to have a fruitful life.” Henri Nouwen
HHonestly, I don’t remember where or from which book of Henri Nouwen’s work that I first read this passage, but I then added it to my morning prayer list. I modified the first couple of sentences to speak directly to me, but the thoughts and inspiration clearly come from the work of Dutch-born Catholic priest Henri Nouwen. Father Nouwen taught psychology at the University of Notre Dame and pastoral theology at the Divinity Schools of Yale and Harvard before leaving academia to become the pastor at L’ Arche Daybreak, a community for people with intellectual disabilities.
The message is a daily reminder that everyone I deal with today is functioning through brokenness from some past hurt or current struggle. In this issue of 4Memphis we are promoting a book signing on October 20 at Novel, by Dr. Durant Fleming, Splendid Agony, Celebrating Dyslexia. Durant and I were both born in 1960, and we are both dyslexic.
We share the same story of our worlds falling apart in the 3rd grade when we hit a brick wall trying to learn to read and write. It would be many years later after many years of struggle before we would come to realize the blessings of being dyslexic. If you google famous people who are dyslexics, they are artistic and experts in multi-tasking. Many of the most successful entrepreneurs and CEOs are dyslexic: Charles Schwab, John Chambers, Henry Ford, Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs just to name a few. The world has been blessed with many artistic dyslexics: John Lennon, Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney are a few names to headline the list.
It is obvious that by authoring this book, Durant overcame his struggle with reading and writing. Durant first received his undergraduate degree in Communications at Memphis State then completed three masters degrees, and earned a doctorate by the time he was 30 years old. He then went on to become a career educator - first as a teacher, a vice principal, then as a head of school. Durant’s success doesn’t mean dyslexia didn’t leave scars, but as Father Nouwen encourages us to do every day, Durant has used his scars to bear fruit.
The pages of this issue of 4Memphis are full of people who may bear scars from childhood trauma or adult struggles. Their brokenness is their inspiration to bear fruit by loving their fellow Memphian. We are all broken, yet finding a way through the brokenness to love and serve others is the best medicine to heal the brokenness.
On a personal note of humor, while I was trying to write a letter in support of Durant’s book on dyslexia, I not once was able to type the word without typing it letter for letter having to look at the word already spelled out. In my youth, I would have thought what is wrong with me - now it just makes me laugh!
Seek the peace and prosperity of Memphis.
Share From the Publisher of 4Memphis: The Gift of Brokenness