“Mom, there’s a hole in my sock”, my daughter said as she got dressed one morning.
“There’s a hole in your sock, dear Liza?”, I replied with a grin as I went to her dresser to get a new pair. She looked at me blankly and asked why I’d called her Liza.
“Well, you know, from the song about the hole in the bucket. You know, ‘dear Liza, dear Liza’?” I sang at her as I handed her the socks. When it was clear that I had neglected this aspect of my daughter’s education, I sang her the whole song and we laughed at Henry who was either too stupid or too lazy to fix his holey bucket. Later that day, in a moment of convergence, a friend of mine had a picture book of that song sitting her couch. Here’s a great picture of it:
I am reading Donald Miller’s book Through Painted Deserts. Near the end there is a time when he looks up at the stars at night, staggered at God’s creation; he would never have seen the blanket of heaven’s lights if he’d stayed in Houston. “I would have bought a little condo and filled it with Ikea trinkets and dated some girl just because she was hot and would have read self-help books, end to end, one after another, trying to fix the gaping hole in the bottom of my soul.” [emphasis mine]
I stopped reading there. It’s such a comfort to me to hear that there is someone else in the world that has a gaping hole where their heart is. I call it my wound. It’s an enormous, raw injury that aches extremely tender if you touch close to its edges. Though I know that I’m not, I can’t be, the only one with this hole in my heart, sometimes when I look out and see how very normal everyone else looks I have to wonder. Am I really the only one that walks around hiding a hole in my bucket and wondering how to fix it. How shall I fix it, dear Liza?
Perhaps that’s why many people look like they have no hole in their bucket; perhaps they’ve learned to plug the hole with a straw or twig. Maybe when they were young their parents kept them busy with sports activities, crafts, day camps in the summer when there is no school. Maybe their parents taught them to make friends, fit in, keep distracted at home with TV and electronics. When you are busy and productive (and I say this from experience) the wound in your soul hurts less. As Donald Miller says, you buy stuff and get married and work hard, secretly reading self-help books by night to try to figure out why it’s not quite enough.
As a passionate follower of Jesus I would really like to tell you that I have it all figured out now. I’d like to tell you that by following these three (or six or twelve) simple steps you too can heal that hole in your heart. But that hole was created when we were torn out of a perfectly joined union with our great Lover. By an ignorant choice, we ripped ourselves out of His arms (see Genesis 1), creating a hole that cannot be fixed aside from a perfect re-joining once again. Augustine of Hippo in 354 AD tried for a long time to fix the hole in his heart through education, hard work, partying. He finally said to God: “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in You.” When we are in a real, ongoing relationship with Jesus, His loving hand covers our wound so that we can be filled with His presence where there is love and peace and rest. Miller, continuing on his thought as he looks at the stars, writes “[the heart] hole seems plugged with Orion, allowing my soul to collect that feeling of belonging and love you only get when you stop long enough to engage the obvious.” Obvious equals miracle-making God.
I do think that some people’s heart wounds are bigger than others’. For a variety of complex psychological, physical, emotional reasons, some people experience the wounding of the separation of Lover and Beloved more than other people do. But there is absolutely no one without a wound like a belly button that says they were once joined with someone else.
Our Lover has promised that one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes and our pain we will remember no more. The re-joining will be perfect. We won’t just have our wound healed – there will be no wound. There will one day be no hole in my bucket. Dear Liza, what a day that will be!