Mosaic: A Conversation between the Broken Pieces

Mosaic of the broken heart Credit: Jane Zalkin

There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in – Leonard Cohen, Anthem

I see our world as broken – and paradoxically, I also hold hope for our healing and wholeness as a people and planet. My hope is affirmed by Leonard Cohen’s song quoted above.

For the past 30 years I have created Circles of Trust ® and Circles of Renewal and Wholeness ®, grounded in the writing of Parker J. Palmer and his knowing that, without denying or abandoning the outer world, we must reclaim the reality and power of our inner lives. These Circles offer spaces that create the best chance to connect the inner life of mind and spirit with the outer life of work and service.

With the pandemic and increased divisiveness on our planet, Kirkridge Retreat and Study Center turned to the internet to create these on-line spaces for reconnecting soul and role. Whether participants gather at a retreat center or in a Zoom room, we are “in-person,” bringing our full presence. This work is based in our belief that each person has an inner teacher; an inner source of truth, named in various wisdom traditions as identity, true self, heart, spirit, or soul.

I love the mystery of creating a space where participants can better hear their own inner wisdom, better see their own hidden wholeness, connect soul and role, and hear their shy souls speak. I understand that embracing paradox is a huge part of that work; of course, only I can do my inner work, and yet it is too hard to do alone . . . I need a trustworthy circle in which to hear myself.

I love to create the space I need – and to invite others into that space to learn to embrace the paradox of beauty and brokenness. We grow our capacity to stand and act with integrity in the gap between what is and what could be. This work helps us resist both the corrosive cynicism that comes from seeing only what is broken and the irrelevant idealism that comes from seeing only what is not.

One recent Circle focused on the theme of “Finding Wholeness in a Broken World.” I was inspired by Terry Tempest Williams’ reflections on brokenness. In Finding Beauty In a Broken World, she writes about the loss of her ability to write after September 11. Tempest describes how she went to the ocean and thought, “Give me one wild word to follow.” She says that the sea rolled back one word to her: mosaic. In inimitable Terry Tempest Williams style, she went to Ravenna, Italy, to study mosaics with a master! These are the insights she offered us from that time:

§ A mosaic is a conversation that takes place on surfaces.
§ A mosaic is a conversation with light, with color, with form.
§ A mosaic is a conversation with time.
§ A mosaic is a conversation between the broken pieces.
§ Mosaics are created out of community.

Similar to Tempest Williams, Parker J. Palmer reflects on two ways for the heart to break: in a way that leaves scars and closes it off permanently, or in a way that breaks it open to even more pain and grief and joy and love.

As Sally Z. Hare connects soul and role as Elder, she deepens her craft superpower of connecting – with words, with collage, with relational trust. She is a South Carolinian by birth and by choice, which makes embracing the paradox of beauty and brokenness an absolute necessity.

For more information on attending COT/CRW retreats, please go to or contact the author at if you are interested in becoming a facilitator.

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