Is Life Always Broken?

LIFE cover 12-28-1953: Mosaic of the Madonna and Child on a background of gold at the Basilica of St. Mark

Is life always broken? Well, yes and no! In one sense, life is broken in that it has a beginning and end. It’s broken into states of being awake and sleep. But, it’s not broken in the sense that we are either alive or not! Let me explain what inspired the question in the title.

Like the Madonna in the above pictured mosaic, "a life is like a mosaic - it is a whole made up of broken (events)."

Recently, I heard the word “mosaic” used on a radio talk show. The person who used it, followed with a simple explanation that a mosaic is a whole made up of broken pieces. I think that her simple explanation of a mosaic is an excellent metaphor for life. A life is like a mosaic – it is a whole made up of broken events. Now, let me clarify the use of broken; I don’t mean for the word “broken” in this mosaic metaphor to imply any strong negativity regarding life. If you think about it, usually an event is only an event when it has a start and finish, therefore broken within a continuum of time. When we look back on life, don’t we see it in terms of different phases, levels, eras and/or events?

A "life-mosaic" can be damaged just like this "Damaged Roman mosaic depicting Alexander the Great (L) engaged in battle w. a chariot riding Darius III, king of Persia, at Issus"

So, how can viewing life as a mosaic be of help to us? I don’t know about you, but I often find myself thinking about my own life in terms of a few outstanding past events and whatever is presently happening. In other words, I am incorrectly thinking that my life is just a few broken pieces and not as a beautiful mosaic of which the new broken pieces are being added to create an even bigger one. Another idiomatic saying that illustrates this is: “We can’t see the forest for the trees.” Though that saying is good, for this posting, I will stick with the use of a mosaic for my metaphor.

The main point of using mosaic as a theme for this post is how it fits as a metaphor for a life. The mosaic can be a beautiful work of art where the finished product is made up of many broken parts that by themselves, lack the completeness and beauty of the whole. When attending a memorial service for someone who has died, I’m often reminded of how a life has such a “mosaic-quality.” It is not unusual for those in attendance at such a service to make remarks about how the deceased would have loved the memorial.

"Can't see the 'Joshua Tree' forest for the trees!":-)

What is meant by those who remark that the deceased would have loved the memorial? Usually, I think, it is how beautiful her/his life was when viewed holistically. Not the view of the last-days or one particular incident, but from childhood to the end. Various events are pointed out, happy times remembered and interesting stories told that demonstrate how the life of the deceased is so fondly admired. In other words, all the broken events in one’s life creates a “mosaic work of art (life).”

Do you see your life as a beautiful mosaic?

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