“E Pluribus Unum” means “Out of Many, One.”
We see this on our money. We remember this during our holy communion liturgy. We try to practice this in our daily lives, but often a sense of “brokenness” overtakes and overpowers our oneness.
I come from a broken home. Let me clarify. My mom and dad had a broken relationship which resulted in separation for 5 years. Then, they got back together when I was about 14. From then until my mom passed away when I was 28, I experienced a “fixing,” mending, or re-uniting of the brokenness.
I am now a father of two, and I am divorced. I experience brokenness every other week as my kids move to and from my house and their mom’s, about 4 miles away. We honestly do not like to think of our family as being broken, but this is an important reality which we must face. When we do, we can see the strength of another force at work. The force which unites brokenness and tethers together that which is shattered is the unseen force of love.
Love believes in the potential of “oneness,” even in the face of brokenness. It takes persistent love, and sometimes “time,” or “faithfulness,” to bring together that which is hoped for, but not yet seen. Love and faith seemingly go hand in hand. In the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, he states that there are three attributes which “abide.” They are faith, hope, and love. I believe that just as faith takes form in action which makes hope manifest, love has taken form in the affectionate peace our family now experiences during our brokenness.
As a divorced dad, I think of this many times, especially on those days when my children return to their mom. My sons and I have those goodnight conversations which go, “I love you to the moon and back,” followed by a competitive response, “I love you to the furthest star and back,” and so on. We love each other, which makes the separation difficult.
Sometimes one or the other of my sons wanted to stay with me. Then, I tried to teach the hard concept that even when not together in person, we are still as close in our thoughts and hearts. I would compare it to the earth’s rotation. Every night, it looks as if the sun has vanished. But it is as near to the earth as it used to be. It will be visible again in just a few hours. We know that it is still with us. This image helped my kids recognize we were still connected, even when we couldn’t see each other.
Parents, even divorced ones, love their kids unconditionally; their kids love them just as much. We don’t have to understand all of life to know that. Sometimes it’s best to give up on our understanding, and just accept the reality of what we’re facing.
Maybe faith is just this: to accept that we are loved, even in the brokenness. We are loved, even when separated by distance. We are loved, and this love is stronger than all forces that divide us. This love is made visible in Holy Communion. It is evident in the One holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. It is manifest through the work of the Holy Trinity.
Believe it or not, God loves us. That love unites us–even if we appear separated and shattered.
Yes, we are many. But God, who is always with us, makes us one.
How is God’s capacity to heal brokenness evident in your life?