Restorer of breaches

This is one of the various Old Testament titles for all those who desire to work for justice and peace. It resonates so well with our mission that it went straight to my heart.

A breach means two sides leaving a gaping space to be restored, to be reunited. We will never be finished diving deeper into the meaning of our missionary life to understand the wound and the progressive manner of bringing together its two sides. A Japanese concept, Kintsugi, evokes this by speaking of the art of repairing a broken vase with a mixture of lacquer and gold powder. Beauty in imperfection. The damage to the ceramic is no longer definitive but the beauty is enhanced with the fragments of both sides.

These two resonate in a very particular way in these days.

If the heart of our mission is to work on the two sides of youth in distress: youth who were victims and youth who were caught up in delinquency; the heart of our listening has led us to address the gaping hole in the human heart. Recently, I was listening to one youth whose story is a tapestry of abandonment, physical and sexual violence. She was crying, sobbing as she opened up her story for the first time of being “beaten in the morning and raped at night”. 

And yet, during this time of sharing, she was at one point able to articulate the impact of her abuse on her daily life: she herself had become violent with the children at her former center. With a disconcerting coldness, she told me that she had beaten a multitude of little girls between 10 and 12 years of age and remained unmoved and indifferent when they cried… Her former educative teams no longer knew what to do with her. A breach with two sides, of tears and coldness, which is still perpetuated and cries out for restoration.

Restorer of breaches.

Listening to a mother, addicted to drugs and solvent, navigating between violence to her children and submissive silence in front of her abusive husband. A few years ago, she put so much pressure on her daughters already in a center to withdraw the case they had filed against a father and a brother, both abusers. To see the fearsome and dangerous side of this mother and on the other side, her feverish and skinny body, her smile “with one lonesome tooth” and to hear her say to me: “Sister, I have nothing left”.  Two sides of the same breach.

Restorer of breaches.

Then, coming to my beloved country, listening to the lives of young French people who are forced to disguise their arrival in France with a lie about their roots. “I am the son of…” they were told to say if necessary. The reality is quite different. The “ of… ” has stayed in their homeland or in the islands and the separation is dramatic in the child’s heart. For these young people, the adults’ desire for a better future for the child has imposed itself in their hearts like a wound. Their “being a son” has been masked by “being the son of someone else”, may it be an uncle or a distant family member… How then could they possibly love France? 

The gap is not on the outside, it is above all within. “Sister, I spent three days on the balcony of my apartment building with my suitcase, crying for my mother. Why do we separate a 5-year-old child from his mother? Why me?” The abyss of these inner journeys in which so many dilemmas and paradoxes are intertwined. To be faced with delinquency and the heart of the child still in tears.

Restorer of breaches.

To accept to see the breaches face on. To accept the discomfort and the pain.

Understand the cause and the source. Then restore it. Choosing not to be inactive but to set out again on the paths of the deserts and gaping holes of human hearts and societal systems.

Restorer of breaches. Let’s be this… together! Let’s put lacquer, professionalism, and gold dust, listening and patience, prayer for those who believe, between the parts of life held in the heart.

Sophie de Jesus