I recently visited an art exhibition in Seoul, Korea, of renown artist and professor Ellen Shim (심정아교수). The exhibition was a collection of sculptures and stigmata entitled “Broken Beauty.” Prof. Shim understands suffering, and she echoes the cries of agony arising from victims in her own nation – families of the over 300 school children who were drowned in the “Sewolho” incident (name of a ship that capsized off the Western Sea of Korea in 2014, where the Coast Guard could rescue none of the 300 students – they all drowned – yet managed to save most of the crew and other passengers; as of yet no action has been taken to punish those responsible); as well as hundreds of thousands of people still being cruelly and tyrannically abused in North Korea. Her exhibit also voiced the cries of the young girls kidnapped and sold into sex slavery in Nigeria, as well as those who have suffered under the inhumane atrocities of ISIS. The brokenness and grief continue worldwide.
Prof. Shim cries out, “How much more must we suffer before our beauty can be revealed?” But her exhibition included a beautiful dance that provides the answer. The dancer enters in darkness, dressed in black, slowly approaching a “broken beauty” sculpture with a seashell beside it. Putting the shell to her ear, we hear the merciless roar of the sea, the agonizing cries of the dead; she then proceeds slowly to a small pail of water, dips the shell into the water and slowly pours it over her head and body. Cleansed by the pure water, the dancer suddenly rises, sheds her grave clothes and arises in the white of purity as she begins the dance of life. She takes a candle, illuminating the darkness with light. The darkness cannot overcome the light. She kneels beneath a table filled with pieces of broken beauty and discovers fresh green plants which, though unseen until she observed them, bring life, along with the light, to the room. The room becomes filled with light and life, and with sounds of joy and dancing.
I left the exhibition and went directly to a week-long camp of people committed to the healing and restoration of the Korean Peninsula, dedicated to pray and work for a unified Korea that will bless the world. The question that lingered in my mind throughout this past week is, who will be willing to be used by God to bring healing to a broken world? Who will discover God’s amazing beauty even in the midst of such unimaginable brokenness, and experience God’s healing in their own lives to become “wounded healers,” as Henri Nouwen expressed it, for the world?
God is calling, and raising up, His shepherds throughout the world. Shepherds do more than feed sheep. They are followers of the Lamb of God who allowed Himself to become disfigured on the cross in order to reveal the beauty of the forgiveness and new life of His Father. Just as Jesus came into the world as the Good Shepherd, and loved His sheep to the very end, even taking their sins upon Himself, but rising again from the dead to give life whose beauty shines in the greatest suffering, so these shepherds – and you are invited to become one of them – show God’s mercy and compassionate love to the world. Some may be pastors, but most will be teachers, doctors, plumbers, gardeners, delivery men or women, sanitation workers, or social workers. Their occupations will be myriad; there will also be presidents and ambassadors of nations in this healing community. These shepherds will feed their people in righteousness and justice. They will heal the sick, bind up the wounded, seek the lost, bring back those who have strayed. They will reveal God’s beauty to the world. You and I can be part of the answer. Remember, the Light shines in the darkness, and the the dark forces of evil cannot overcome it.