Monday, July 25, 2011


Every day is filled with them. We face so many cracks in a day that we hardly even notice them underfoot. Until when we have to wait for a few extra minutes on hold, or sit waiting for a few extra minutes for a webpage to download, or wait a few extra minutes in rush hour traffic, or wait while someone slides into the parking space we’ve been waiting to fill. Cracks. Little slices of every day. 
Remember the childhood saying, “Step on a crack, break your mother’s back”? The English language fills in cracks with a variety of meanings. Humor: “He cracks me up”. Measure of quality: “Not all it’s cracked up to be”. Measure of distance: “Open the window a crack”. Emotions: “Wear him down until he cracks”.
Waiting cracks up no one. There are kinds of cracks that aren’t funny and they’re not pretty. There’s a common occurrence in contemporary life I’ll call “spontaneous cracks”. It is a little like spontaneous combustion but different. Instead of flames, you get smoke. A spontaneous crack is a brief encounter with unasked for waiting; a little unfilled crack of time in which you find yourself feeling impatient, resentful or frustrated.
Filling cracks. If our days are full of cracks, what can we do to smooth things out? First, welcome cracks. See spontaneous cracks in your day as little unasked for gifts. Who doesn’t enjoy received an unlooked for gift. Rather than curse a crack, welcome the crack as an unopened gift. Returning and rest is nothing more than a receptive approach to life allowing us to experience empty places in the day with gratitude instead of grumpiness.
Second, fill in the cracks. Step right into those little spaces of time with special material of your own choosing. Make something creative happen in that specific minute of your day. What am I talking about? Try smiling at the crack. Fill the crack with a little bit of humor. Tell a joke. Laugh silently at a rude person who is making you wait. Your smile just might be the seed crystal which transforms the whole chemistry of the situation.
Here’s another cracked idea. Meet gift for gift. Give a quality part of yourself to the crack. Fill the crack with one of your favorite wise sayings. Recite poetry while you wait. Carry with you a few hand-written cards with wisdom sayings, proverbs, great life quotes, a sentence or two from Scripture. Work on memorizing one of those in that crack.
Finally, think of cracks as soul time. Take those brief moments handed to you every day and zero in on the state of your soul. Breathe a few good slow breaths. Focus your attention for a few moments each day upon the cracks. As odd as it sounds, those are the places where wonders happen, the creative spaces which help you become a radiant human. As Leonard Cohen sings,
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Lyrics by Leonard Cohen, Anthem, off his The Future album, 1992.

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