A couple of days ago while we were at the beach for a short while, I spent a bit of time near the shoreline as the tide came in. That's prime time to find sand dollars. My mind flitted out of the moment and began thinking back to years past when I could walk the beach in search of sand dollars. I started feeling this longing to find a *whole* sand dollar. As I thought about this want, I pulled myself back into the moment and wondered why I even cared if I did or didn't find a whole sand dollar.
Just as I found myself in this thought spiral, I spotted a perfectly beautiful *broken* sand dollar. I was so drawn to it, I picked it up and brought it home. Ever since reading The Matzah Ball, in which author Jean Meltzer mentioned part of the Midrash, writing: "God only works through broken vessels," I've been a bit obsessed with this idea (and have taken bit of a deep dive into it with a friend).
What's the takeaway from this broken sand dollar that I found? We are *all* broken vessels, according the the Midrash. As I've struggled through this unrelenting relapse, I've found comfort in the belief that I am still worthy and beautiful, not in spite of my brokenness, but because of it. I wanted less to find a whole sand dollar than to be able to walk the beach--but the broken sand dollar reminded me of the constant struggle I feel as a disabled person, especially when my functioning is so low.
As disabled people, we live in a world that teaches us that our brokenness is not the 'acceptable' kind. That we are a burden to be carried by the world.
If we recognize that what Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfelt wrote: "We are all broken, infinitely precious in the eyes of God," we can begin to accept both our own brokenness and that of others. We can remember that God accepts all of us, and hope that one day we will live in a world where disabled people are valued in all of their brokenness in the same way that God values every other human being. This will bring us just a bit closer to tikkun olam.
Note: As I've been writing this post, Wix keeps trying to correct the spelling of both Midrash (it prefers Madras) and tikkun olam (it prefers slam!). I can't help but think it's a bit ironic that Wix thinks these words are 'broken.' :)