Having lived in Pittsburgh for fourteen years, in 1992 I packed up my life and moved to South Florida. Working as the administrator of an international development program, I was looking to expand my horizons even further by moving somewhere new.
Being a bit cautious, I made the move and rented an apartment for the first year. I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision about moving so I didn’t want to make the commitment of buying a home too quickly. Even after surviving Hurricane Andrew which blew through South Florida four months after I arrived, I was happy with my new environment. I began looking for the right home and was fortunate to land a comfortable condo on an island in the middle of Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
Like many new homes, there was work to be done. I quickly found a contractor to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms. A local interior design student offered to paint because he wanted to practice the use of textured painting techniques. The renovation that was most important to me was the decks of the balconies: one off the living room and the other off my bedroom.
The truth is that the condo was pretty ordinary: a basic apartment. What I liked about it were the balcony views: the living room facing north and the bedroom facing west overlooking the bay. Over the years I lived there, I spent many hours on the westward balcony. In the morning, I’d watch dolphins and manatees play; in the evenings, I savor the sun sets; at night, I was delighted by the stars shimmering in the sky and beheld that magical moon over Miami.
A member of a church I frequented learned that I wanted to tile the decks of the balconies. In particular, I wanted a mosaic deck on the westward balcony. He offered to design and lay it.
Over the next couple of weekends, Jorge designed and created the balcony. He visited me in the early morning and late afternoon to consider the view from the balcony, the changing colors of the light, and the relationship of the building to the bay. He presented me with a simple pencil sketch and discussed the colors he envisioned. His plan and creative approach was more than I had hoped for so the work began.
After sketching the design on the deck, Jorge arrived with a box of assorted tiles most of which were chipped and broken. He explained that some were left over from old jobs and others were obtained from a local distributer at a greatly reduced price because they were damaged. He continued to break and shape pieces until he was able to bring the simple pencil drawing to life. It was a creative process that took broken pieces of ceramic, odd shapes and sharp edges, and brought them together to form an image of water, waves, and sky.
The mosaic created by Jorge was much more than a deck for my balcony. It was a work of art that’s also a metaphor for our lives. The mosaic was made from broken pieces of this and that, some leftovers and other damaged pieces. At first glance, those broken pieces don’t seem to be related to each other. The sharp edges had the ability to cut and damage. But when the pieces were placed together, the broken pieces are transformed into something of beauty.
As we look over the course of our lives, often broken pieces seem to stick out. Many of those pieces have sharp edges: difficult memories that continue to jag and cut into our hearts. Other pieces have been rubbed smooth and shiny; we recognize them as things of beauty. Up close, we may not see the pattern. But, when we look from the right distance, the pieces come together and, even though it may be difficult to admit, something of beauty is created. Indeed, our lives are mosaics: things of beauty created from broken pieces.
Perhaps today, as you look over the broken pieces of your life that are still sharp enough to cut and wound your spirit, you may be able to look at them from a different perspective and find that a beautiful mosaic is emerging. Perhaps that beauty can inspire other aspects of your life.
© 2011, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.