the rest of the story...

i think the light post from yesterday needs more... more about the rat, roscurro. 

his part in the tale of despereaux resounds so with me.

because if oprah winfrey asked me to write an essay on “what i know for sure” it would be this..

there are two things that i know for sure...

there is light & this world (including myself) is broken.

i read this recently and it was exactly what i have been struggling with lately... being so broken. things around me being so broken. but mostly struggling with my own broken soul. my own failures and weakenesses.

“Now here is my secret. 
I tell it to you with an openness of heart that I doubt I shall ever achieve again, 
so I pray that you are in a quiet room as you hear these words. 
My secret is that I need God—I am sick and can no longer make it alone. 
I need God to help me give, because I no longer seem capable of giving; 
to help me be kind, as I no longer seem capable of kindness; 
to help me love, as I seem beyond able to love.”
{douglas coupland in life after God}

read some more of roscuro’s story (from the tale of despereaux) here because reading it always makes me sad. because i recognize myself in his story, in his choices, in his falling into a bowl of soup (i mean who amoung us hasn’t fallen into a bowl of soup?)... 

we will start where we left off yesterday, roscuro falling in love with the light...

He wanted to be filled, flooded, blinded again with light.

And for that, reader, the rat knew he must go upstairs...

Imagine, if you will, having spent the whole of your life in a dungeon. Imagine that late one spring day, you step out of the dark and into a world of bright windows, polished floors, winking copper pots, shining suits of armor, and tapestries sewn in gold...

"I," said Roscuro, spinning dizzily from one bright thing to the next, "I will never leave. No, never. I will never go back to the dungeon. Why would I? I will never torture another prisoner. It is here that I belong."

The rat waltzed happily from room to room until he found himself at the door to the banquet hall. He looked inside and saw gathered there King Phillip, Queen Rosemary, the Princess Pea, twenty noble people, a juggler, four minstrels, and all the king's men. This party, reader, was a sight for the rat's eyes. He had never seen happy people. He had known only the miserable ones...

Roscuro was enchanted. Everything glittered. Everything...

"Oh, really," said Roscuro, "this is too extraordinary. This is too wonderful... suffering is not the answer. Light is the answer."

And he made his way into the banquet hall. He lifted his tail off the ground and held it at an angle and marched in time to the music the minstrels were playing on their guitars.

The rat, reader, invited himself to the party.

There was, in the banquet hall, a most beautiful and ornate chandelier. They crystals that hung from it caught the light of the candles on the table and the light from the face of the laughing princess... What better place to view all this glory, all this beauty?

There was so much laughing and singing and juggling that no one noticed as Roscuro climbed up a table leg and onto the table, and from there flung himself onto the lowest branch of the chandelier.

Hanging by one paw, he swung back and forth, admiring the spectacle below him: the smells of the food, the sound of the music and the light, the light, the light. Amazing. Unbelievable. Roscuro smiled and shook his head.

Unfortunately, a rat can hang from a chandelier for only so long before he is discovered...

Reader, do you know who spotted him?

You're right. The sharp-eyed Princess Pea.

"A rat!" she shouted. "A rat is hanging from the chandelier!..."

No one, in the midst of all the merriment heard the Pea. No one except for Roscuro.


He had never been aware of what an ugly word it was. 


In the middle of all that beauty, it immediately became clear that it was an extremely distasteful syllable.


A curse, an insult, a word totally without light. And not until he heard it from the mouth of the princess did Roscuro realize that he did not like being a rat, that he did not want to be a rat. This revelation hit Roscuro with such force that it made him lose his grip on the chandelier. 

The rat, reader, fell.

And, alas, he fell right, directly, into the queen's bowl of soup...

The queen looked at Roscuro. 

Roscuro looked at the queen.

Reader, in the spirit of honesty, I must utter a difficult and unsavory truth: Rats are not beautiful creatures. They are not even cute. They are, really, rather nasty beasts, particularly if one happens to appear in your bowl of soup with pieces of watercress clinging to his whiskers.

There was a long moment of silence, and then Roscuro said to the queen, "I beg your pardon."

In response, the queen flung her spoon in the air and made an incredible noise, a noise that was in no way worthy of a queen...

And then she said, "There is a rat in my soup."

The queen was really a simple soul and always, her whole life, had done nothing except state the overly obvious.

She died as she lived...

Roscuro climbed out of the soup bowl. He felt that, under the circumstances, it would be best if he left. As he crawled across the tablecloth... Roscuro turned. He looked back.

And he saw that the princess was glaring at him. Her eyes were filled with disgust and anger.

"Go back to your dungeon" was what the look she gave him said. "Go back into the darkness where you belong."

This look, reader, broke Roscuro's heart.

Did you think that rats do not have hearts? Wrong. All living things have a heart. And the heart of any living thing can be broken.

If the rat had not looked over his shoulder, perhaps his heart would not be broken. And it is possible, then, that I would not have a story to tell.

But, reader, he did look.

Roscuro hurried from the banquet hall.

"A rat," he said. He put a paw over his heart. "I am a rat. And there is no light for rats. There will be no light for me."

The king's men were still bent over the queen. The king was still shouting, "Save her! Save her!" And the queen was still dead, of course, when Roscuro encountered the queen's royal soup spoon lying on the floor.

"I will have something beautiful," he said aloud. "I am a rat but I will have something beautiful. I will have a crown of my own." He picked up the spoon. He put it on his head. 

"Yes," said Roscuro. "I will have something beautiful and I will have revenge. Both things. Somehow." 

There are those hearts, reader, that never mend again once they are broken. Or, if they do mend, they heal themselves in a crooked and lopsided way, as if sewn together by a careless craftsmen. Such was the fate of Chiaroscuro. His heart was broken. Picking up the spoon and placing it on his head, speaking of revenge, these things helped him put his heart back together again. But it was, alas, put together wrong.

"Where is the rat?" shouted the king. "Find the rat!"

"If you want me," muttered Roscuro as he left the banquet hall, "I will be in the dungeon, in the darkness."

* from the tale of despereaux by kate dicamillo

each day as i grow older (and maybe wiser?) i see more and more broken places in this world. my prayers grow longer and louder. my pleas more desperate. and i see even more brokenness in myself. i used to be able to “hold it all together” for longer periods of time. keep my selfishness under wraps. smile and platitude all the day long about how “all is good in the world”. but daily the cracks widen. the chasm between who i am and Who created me grows wider. and splits my in two. spirit and flesh. bone and marrow.

i know that like roscuro that if i allow the things of this world to try to heal my heart (money, food, approval, self-improvement, etc...) to mend up the broken places that it will be put together by a “careless craftsmen”. but i know a much more careful craftsman...

psalm 147:3 
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.

“The world breaks everyone, 
and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”
{ernest hemingway}

“The resurrection of Christ means
everything sad is going to come untrue 
and it will somehow be GREATER 
for having once been broken and lost.” 
{john piper}

“I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, 
that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions 
will vanish like a pitiful mirage, 
like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small 
Euclidean mind of man, 
that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, 
something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, 
for the comforting of all resentments, 
of the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, 
of all the blood that they’ve shed; 
and it will make it not only possible to forgive 
but to justify what has happened.”
{dostoevsky in the brothers karamazov}

so much is broken and lost. in the world. and in me. but one day everything sad is going to come untrue. and one day is will somehow be GREATER. ashes into beauty. what is broken will be made whole. and stronger for being broken.

so that is all i really know for sure. and all that i keep writing about and thinking about. the beauty of the light & all the things that are broken.