Beautifully Broken


Yesterday morning Gracie and I took a walk. This wasn’t a fast paced, get your heart pumping for P.E. class walk. It was a slow down, open your eyes and see the world in a different way photography class walk. She was working on her assignment for the week and I went along with her because I found the assignment so compelling. It really spoke to my heart. Her teacher sent out this email:

“Many photographers take the easy road and shoot flowers, breathtaking landscapes, models, the ocean at sunset, castles, dewy meadows, children and ponies. It is the photographer with the more sensitive eye and creative sense who can find the beauty in something either mundane or downright ugly.  Examples might be the innards of a rusty, rotted barn, the ruins of a house with weeds growing from it, the haze of pollution over Beijing, or a wet mattress left on the curb.  These are the photographers that can focus, crop, adjust lighting or point of view to get delicacy and beauty where most people would find rubbish.” 

She was then told to go out into her neighborhood and find those things that would be considered an “eyesore” to others and photograph them in a way that shows their beauty. I thought it was a wonderful photography lesson as well as a poignant life lesson, so with cameras in hand we headed out to find things that were “beautifully broken.”

Here are some of the photos Gracie took of the “junk” around our property.


A pile of old pallets.

“Imperfections are beautiful.”

A rusty trailor

A rusty trailer

“I am like stained glass..beautifully broken but filled with light.”

Moss growing on a pile of wood.

Moss growing on a pile of construction debris.

“I do not aim for faultlessness in my work after seeing the most charming piece of painted furniture I have ever set eyes on in the Doge’s Palace in Venice- a captivating decoupage cabinet built in the 18th century. None of its lines were straight or measured and the paper cut outs were not completely stuck down. It was dark in some places, faded in others, and worn in parts but in the sum of these inconsistencies was a certain sort of perfection.” – Annie Sloan

An old, broken chair.

An old, broken chair.

A pile of old soda cans.

A pile of old soda cans.

“The practice of giving thanks…this is what we practice in the presence of God. Stay present to His presence. It is always a practice of the eyes. We don’t have to change what we see. Only the way we see.” – Ann Voskamp

A discarded door in a pile of rubbish.

A discarded door in a pile of rubbish.

“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, and broken bread to give strength.” – Vance Havner

A bathtub.

A bathtub.

As we walked around the yard I was changed. The rubbish that I viewed as an “eyesore” became beautiful. What I was looking at didn’t change but the way I saw it did. We all have rubbish in our lives, imperfections that we feel need to be made perfect in order to be beautiful. The question then becomes, can we adjust the lighting, the focus, or the point of view so as to see the beauty where others may see rubbish.  Beauty can be found in the mess, in the chaos, in the imperfections of daily living if we would just SEE the beauty of brokenness.

“People often say ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” and I say the most liberating thing about beauty is that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”   -Salma Hayek

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