As we support and pray for my dad through his recent diagnosis of stage 4 cancer, we were blindsided by the uninvited and cruel nature of life’s brevity once again…

My uncle Bruce Howdle, Dad’s youngest brother, healthy and thriving with his wife and adult son, suddenly passed away just over a week ago.

I wanted to share with you the pot Bruce made me out of his compassion.

Unlike the masterpieces Bruce is known for, this pot is simple and broken.

As a child, my memories of a youthful Uncle Bruce are all filled with laughter. Yet, as an adult, he touched my heart on a rare level.

In 2010, as my heart broke through the process of adopting our precious youngest daughters, Sierra and Alyssa, Bruce reached out to me.

Certainly, he understood our passionate love for them.

I’d spilled my broken heart to him through email as tears flowed out of love for my daughter’s and the tragedy that brought them to my arms. I felt desperate and afraid- afraid of loosing them and even more afraid of what that could mean for them.

I received a brown box in the mail several days later. Inside we found a simple, indescribably beautiful, intentionally broken pot with a candle inside. Bruce had used his gifted hands and clay to share hope with me. He reminded me that it’s beautiful to have a broken heart. His compassion was rare and valuable gift.

That night, candle light brightly shimmered out of the skillfully shattered sides of this earthen vessel, crafted specifically broken to shine hope and comfort.

My heart has found solace often from the shimmering light that shines out of this beautifully broken pot.

Bruce understood. This pot symbolizes that the most beautiful hearts this side of heaven, are the broken ones- because it is through the cracks that love, compassion and hope shine out as light, illuminating hope and drawing people closer to God’s love and closer each other in our often dark and isolating world.

Now at the sudden loss of one so precious and invaluable, hearts that loved him are breathtakingly shattered.

As I read through the posts of Facebook it is clear that broken hearts near and far shine comfort and hope onto Bruces’s beloved Sue and their adored son Ross far more beautifully than the candle light that shimmers out of this simple and skillfully broken pot which bares his fingerprints.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NIV

We are praying for you Sue and Ross in your grief. I can only imagine your pain. And as my own heart aches, I’m reminded to pray for you. Praying that through this indescribable pain of your freshly shattered heart which bares the shape of your beloved and displays the remarkable fingerprints of our broken Shepherd, peace, comfort and an awareness of His closeness will be found.

Praying for comfort in this uninvited winter. Know that as you grieve, joy awaits… like flowers that burst forth after winter.

In time the hope and comfort found in this dark place will shimmer forth from these very cracks.

Here’s his website displaying a bit of his incredible gift Bruce displayed as a  ceramicist: Bruce Howdle Gallery

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