Broken and Beautiful

The second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, never fails to stir reveries about my maternal ancestors. This past week, I have been dwelling on memories of my own mother and grandmothers and also pondering the great-grandmothers I never knew. Gathering old photographs, I set up a little altar laden with rosaries, jewelry, china, and bits of antique lace, to honor them. I lit candles and filled glass vases full of whatever was blooming in my flower garden.

Each year, I strive to affirm my daughters (all three are mothers too) of the unique power that the bond of maternity can wield in our world. Beyond blood, there is an inclusive love line that extends to all humanity, an extension of the “Holy Mother,” prescient and desired by everyone. She takes many forms– from fierce protectiveness like a lioness to quiet perseverance like a hen on the nest; from courageous refugee mothers to diligent hard-working moms who must multi-task like a juggler every single day.

I desire to remind all women, whether biology has made them mothers or not, that there is great strength when we bond together and stream this unique alchemy into the world. Unfortunately, culture often highlights our faults, sins, imperfections, and shortcomings until we feel paralyzed and broken. Ironically, however, this very brokenness often acts as a catalyst for the creation of something beautiful eventually to appear.

Out of these ruminations, I was inspired to rummage through my garage for a box containing broken pieces of the Blue Willow dishes I have used at my dinner table for many decades. I collected this pattern, one piece at a time, not only because I love the blue and white hues but also because I resonate with the story on each piece about transforming love (look it up and you’ll understand). Every time even a saucer cracked or broke, discarding the shards was unthinkable so I kept them, hoping I could perhaps make a mosaic someday. The time had arrived! I decided to learn this process (on YouTube) and give this gift to my daughters as a symbol of home, motherhood, and beauty from brokenness.

While I arranged the pieces, mixed the mortar, glued, waited, spread grout, waited yet again, and wiped off the excess, a sense of elation wafted through me. I wept over all the broken pieces of my motherhood that amazing grace has recreated into something new and beautiful. I felt the presence of our Blessed Mother, the many female saints, and most of all, the women who have been spiritual midwives for me and so many others, all around me. My hands were interwoven in theirs as I finished the projects, wrapped them in tissue paper, and wrote a little Mother’s Day poem for my daughters. The message for them, from me to you: We are broken and beautiful–both/and, not either/or!

May the Holy Mother continue to guide us in ways unexpected.

4 thoughts on “Broken and Beautiful”

  1. Dear Donna,
    Thank you for the gift of these beautiful words. You inspire
    Happy Mother’s Day!


  2. Oh DC, you got to finally put these broken, beautiful pieces together creating a space, purpose and creation for your daughters. How beautiful!!! I absolutely love your post and all it represents. The ‘mother’ image and vocation, you know, is very special to me in all ways in my life. 🙂


  3. Broken pieces can be reunited into beautiful art…nothing can’t be redeemed or restored thru faith & love. Sweet reflection, my friend, on motherhood..endless mercy & forgiveness.


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