Friday, April 15, 2011

To Find God & Grace Inside the Wounds

"You will be wounded. Your work is to find God and grace inside the wounds. This is why Jesus told Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side” (John 20:27). Thomas was trying to resolve the situation mentally, as men usually do, so Jesus had to force direct physical contact with human pain—the pain of Jesus, Thomas’ capacity for empathy with that pain, and very likely with Thomas’ own denied pain. Deep healing has to happen corporeally and emotionally, and not just abstractly.

"Jesus wanted Thomas to face and feel in his body the tragedy of it all—and then know it was not tragedy at all! In that order. That is how wounds become sacred wounds. This is the pattern of all authentic conversion in the Christian economy of grace: not around, not under, not over, but through the wound we are healed and saved."  - Richard Rohr, from On the Threshold of Transformation: Daily Meditations for Men, p. 256, day 247 (Used with permission of Loyola Press)
Thank you for your encouraging words yesterday.

I was supposed to have an appointment in the city, but it was cancelled, so I stayed at home. After a while, I decided to give up the struggle to get anything of substance done, and decided to just allow myself to be sad, to grieve. It's been a while since I had a day when I felt as if I was sliding downhill, and I could tell that nothing was going to work. I exercised, ate, read, prayed, but I was still sliding backward faster than I could walk forward out of it. I thought, The only thing to do is sew blankets for the hospital, so I set up my sewing area. And then, I couldn't even sew.

It dawned on me that I needed two things: a hot bath and a good book. So that's what I gave to myself, in that order. I took a long, hot, scented bath. I gave my feet some needed attention. And then I sat on the couch and read The Pioneer Woman's "From Black Heels To Tractor Wheels," from cover to cover, which I had purchased as a gift for my mother. Go ahead and laugh if you want to. It helped. I took a day of rest - a sick day - and allowed myself to be simply be sad. I was as gentle as I could be with myself, as if I was sick - because I was; I was sick with grief.

Today, I got up and read this quote from Father Rohr, and I know he is right. To fight grief is to push it away, and it won't go away. To face it and feel it, to allow yourself to go through it, like the labor that takes over your body when a baby needs to come out and be born, seems to be the only way to find God and grace in the midst of the sorrow. It seems to be the only way through it, so as not to get stuck in it. It may be counter-intuitive, to believe that going into it will allow you to move through and out of it, but I don't see any other way.

I think I am nearly ready to write a letter to her family now.

"In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
I love you, O LORD, my strength...
The breakers of death surged round about me,
the destroying floods overwhelmed me;
The cords of the nether world enmeshed me,
the snares of death overtook me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears." - Psalm 18


Anonymous said...

I had a day like that yesterday as well. I couldn't tell what was even what - your blog, Ben, hormones, baby, all wrapped up together. Undone.

I was so thankful to finally pop a sleeping pill and end the day.

Thanks for sharing...

Lv, CT

Allegra Smith said...

I truly believe that we should give ourselves completely to grief. No less than we do to joy. I believe that no one can help us as much as we can ourselves when recognizing that grief is a very important part of life.

Others who love and try to comfort us are a palliative, momentary balm to the hurting spirit, but I have always thought that grief is like a rare disease, much as we would like others to provide the medicine, the will to be cured has to come from us.

You were very wise my dear.

Nothing cleanses the rust of pain better than tears. But a cup of tea, and a silent hand to hold ours something are the extras we need to understand we are not alone and that too it is invaluable.

Hugs from here.

Kay said...

I'm glad you took a day to yourself. You've been through so many emotions of late. And yes, there are times when 'it' just won't go away, no matter how many other things we can think of to do. I'm glad a nice bath and a fun novel helped. Hugs to you, friend. : )

Daisy said...

Perfect Richard Rohr quote for me at this time. Thank you for sharing your journey, Karen. Think I'll go take a bath...


Karen said...

I agree. Walking into the wound/pain/grief is counter-intuitive, but the only thing that works. The only thing that keeps us connected to God and ourselves and others. Wise for you to say it and do it. Working on it myself, right now.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Letting the grief have its way with you was the right thing to do.
Your friend and her family (as well as you) have been in my thoughts.
Thank you for sharing Karen.
Love to you, Suz