Lessons from a shattered dream

There was once a little girl who loved to visit her Granny’s house. Maybe it was the familiarity of a place that was safe and where she was loved, maybe it was her Grandpa’s strawberries growing in the garden or the tree house where she and her brother liked to leave messages for their cousins! The trips for ice-cream by the coast or being slipped a pound for sweets. Perhaps it was Granny letting her wear some of her perfume or the way Grandpa’s head tipped right back when he roared with laughter! In truth I’m sure it was all these things, but every time she visited she was drawn to the display cabinet in Granny’s sitting room. Pretty trinkets lovingly collected over the years. Of course she was only ever allowed to look and never touch but the cabinet fascinated her and she loved to look at the sparkly treasures inside.

It was a tiny blue and white china elephant that fascinated her the most and as she stared at it she dreamt of adventures in far off exotic places. I don’t know why she loved it so much, perhaps the elephant watched and recorded the memories of those happy days at Granny’s house.


The little girl grew up and embarked on her own adventures, her love of elephants continued and she even encountered some real ones on her journeys but she always loved to return and pay a visit to Granny’s house. But Granny grew old until one-day Granny took the final journey we all must take. The little girl, who was now a woman with children of her own, was asked did she want anything from Granny’s house? Well, you know already what she chose, the little elephant that held all her precious memories.

The china elephant had pride of place on her mantelpiece alongside other elephants she had collected on her own travels, they whispered the secrets of love, life and adventure for those who knew how to listen.

However not everyone knew the secrets that were held in the china elephant, to most it was just an ornament, a little unusual and pretty but nothing particularly special. For a friend helping to clean perhaps it was just another annoying thing to dust, or perhaps she just didn’t notice it, but the elephant got knocked…shattered on the hearth below. She rushed to sweep it up and discard it, but I stopped her as she apologised…don’t worry, I would like to keep it. Yes, that little girl was me and I held back the tears for I knew it was an accident and there was no way she could know the secrets that it held. Carefully I wrapped the pieces in tissue and put them safely in a small trinket box.

Since that day I discovered something, by still treasuring the broken pieces I released the stories held within it, the little elephant found a new purpose. It became a vehicle to talk about the memories we treasure and how we can embrace thankfulness even through pain. It spoke of how ‘brokenness’ may be a chapter in your journey but it’s not the end of the story, there can be hope and beauty reflected even in the broken fragments. It has enabled me to share, reflect and treasure the memories with thankfulness that were a part of my story in a way I never had before it was broken.

Perhaps you feel that life has chipped away at you or perhaps, like the elephant, one day everything shattered leaving you feeling hopeless. I can tell you that brokenness is not the end, there is hope in the pieces. As you make choices that lead you to hope and peace you can discover a new beauty that wasn’t possible without the brokenness or pain.

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  • Tracy Renee Thacker

    God sent you to me. I was only looking up this cute little Chinese elephant and your words spoke volumes. Been going thru a lot and your words, “As you make choices that lead you to hope and peace you can discover a new beauty that wasn’t possible without the brokenness or pain”, resonates right thru me. Thank you and God bless. This tiny little elephant is now priceless to me.
    Tracy R. Thacker