So Broken, So Much More Whole


Last night I turned off the bathroom light at 11 pm and turned to step out into the absolute darkness. My small toes didn’t quite make the turn and they slammed into the doorpost.  Big Ouch! The toenail split and bled. The toe bone broke and began to swell. Big pain throbbed through the night. Just that little moment of turning too quickly without mindfulness, and just that inch of toe that didn’t clear the door frame space, brought the pain of brokenness. Maybe you have been there: a small place can hurt so bad. (I do not use this broken toe as an illustration to compare it to your more serious broken places, but it just happened so it is on my mind).

Believe me, I paid careful attention to the broken toe after that. I didn’t dare risk hitting it on anything else. How foolish to ignore our broken places. That blindness usually sets us up for more pain.

Today I am still aware the toe is so broken, yet as I sit still, listen to chanting music, read and write, I am also aware that I am so much more whole. This is not about me. This body is a reflection of a larger truth. We human beings are so broken, so much more whole. Today one percent of me is broken. Ninety-nine percent of me is whole. And so are you: so broken, so much more whole. My work is to bring the broken toe into contact with the larger wholeness of this body and my being, which actually helps lessen the suffering.

You cannot know what this means through my simple words. But there is One who is The Revealer. So I say, go down deeper than your broken places and you will find underneath them a vast space of wholeness. In that wholeness place is healing for our broken places. I think the chanting music helped me remember my deeper wholeness today. So did the words of Paula D’Arcy, author and retreat leader, on a YouTube I watched. So have the teachings of Dr. James Finley, Merton scholar, author, and retreat leader.

Your own brokenness might be in the body, the emotions, the mind, the spirit, the relationships, the circumstances, or all of the above. Yes, there you are so broken. So you have work to do. Your job is to locate the broken places, locate the deeper wholeness, and to keep bringing the broken places into contact with the deeper wholeness. By God’s grace this is how healing comes and sustains us. All our lives this is our work. This work will remind us we are so broken, so much more whole.

For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture.


About soulcare4u

I am the author of Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic World, published by Wipf & Stock and available through; and of a blog on, "A Contemplative Path." I serve as the founding spiritual director of The School for Contemplative Living (, adjunct faculty of Loyola University, and as a pastoral counselor and spiritual director in private practice.
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4 Responses to So Broken, So Much More Whole

  1. datlilmommy says:

    Sorry for your accident — but inspired by your reflection. Thank you.

  2. rbmccoy says:

    I liked your story, not the fact that you broke your toe. Been there and it is not a nice place to visit. Good reflections. Thank you.

  3. soulcare4u says:

    Thanks you all, just the act of writing experiences has been a gift. And connecting through responses is one too.

  4. alisha2709 says:

    Owww. Sorry this happened. Thanks for how you shared it. Reminding me of something I read in Anam Cara about how to care for a member in our body who has been hurt: by gently shining the light of love on the wound and calling in ancient resources to bring healing. Just as there is nothing you can do or say to force or speed up your toe’s repair, may I give up any illusion of control and just be present with my friend’s hurt. Thanks.

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