The summer before my freshman year in college, I received a letter from my future professor telling me to read a book for a Freshman Seminar class: Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. Though the title was a bit foreboding for my college career, I read the book, wrote the paper, and promptly forgot everything about it. Until, of course, I became a mother. Suddenly, the title began ringing in my mind every day! I’d mop the kitchen floor right before cooking beets for dinner. Things fall apart. I’d tidy the school room right before a human tornado flew through and left construction-paper-flotsam in its wake. Things fall apart. I’d get a good night sleep and feel like a million bucks the night before each child would wake up at least three times to chat, cry, or vomit. Things fall apart.
The title of the book was taken from W.B. Yeat’s well-known poem, “The Second Coming”. His line, “Things fall apart, the center cannot hold” is one of the most frequently quoted lines of all literature. Newspaper headlines use it all of the time. (And no wonder, the news is things falling apart.)
Although this universal law can discourage me sometimes, I have discovered some beauty in it. The tendency for the universe to fall apart provides the work of our hands. As a Christian, my job is to collect those things, over and over again. To pull them back into place. To fix them. Mend them. Gather them in.
And I do it because I know that the center, actually, can hold. Jesus said that He is the center and that in Him, all things hold together. I believe Him, even if the evidence seems to fly in the other direction at times. I believe Him because He made you and me, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, He gave us the job of putting things back into order. First, of restoring people to God; second of living as children in His kingdom. Re-ordering. That’s our job. So we do it in our little realms, preparing for the time when He will complete it in the great realm of all time-and-space.
So when you pick up, pick up, and pick up one million times each day, put each thing and person in its proper place with peace in your heart. The truth is, things fall apart, the Center can hold. And you get to put them back in His hands.