Saturday, May 26, 2012

Your Heart Is Greater Than Your Wounds

The following is an entry from Henri Nouwen's journal "The Inner Voice of Love." I came across these words at the perfect time today. I will comment afterwards.

Live Your Wounds Through
You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged, because under every wound you uncover you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears still need to be shed.
But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.
The great challenge is living your wounds through instead of thinking them through. It is better to cry than to worry, better to feel your wounds deeply than to understand them, better to let them enter into your silence than to talk about them. The choice you face constantly is whether you are taking your hurts to your head or to your heart. In your head you can analyze them, find their causes and consequences, and coin words to speak and write about them. But no final healing is likely to come from that source. You need to let your wounds go down into your heart. Then you can live them through and discover that they will not destroy you. Your heart is greater than your wounds. 
Understanding your wounds can only be healing when that understanding is put at the service of your heart. Going to your heart with your wounds is not easy; it demands letting go of many questions. You want to know "Why was I wounded? When? How? By whom?" You believe that the answers to these questions will bring relief. But at best they only offer you a little distance from your pain. You have to let go of the need to stay in control of your pain and trust in the healing power of your heart. There your hurts can find a safe place to be received, and once they have been received, they lose their power to inflict damage and become fruitful soil for new life.
Think of each wound as you would of a child who has been hurt by a friend. As long as that child is ranting and raving, trying to get back at the friend, one wound leads to another. But when the child can experience the consoling embrace of a parent, she or he can live through the pain, return to the friend, forgive, and build up a new relationship. Be gentle with yourself, and let your heart be your loving parent as you live your wounds through. 
Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Catholic priest who taught at several theological institutes and universities in his home country of the Netherlands and in the United States. He shared the final years of his life with people with mental and physical disabilities at the L'Arche Daybreak Community in Toronto, Canada. He died in 1996. This particular excerpt comes from a collection of his journals, "The Inner Voice of Love."
I type Nouwen's words into this blog as I sit in a comfy chair inside a coffee shop in downtown Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, the city in which I live.  It has not been the best of days; typically I wake up with a lot of anxiety, much of which is left-over from wounds which I've carried for decades.

My first instinct is to think my problems through as if they were scientific problems. There's only one problem with this; my mind doesn't work all that well these days as I suffer from chronic to major depression as well as anxiety disorders. So instead of helping me, taking my wounds to my head to think them through only causes more harm.

I agree with Nouwen that what I must do is give all of those mind-questions to God, who resides deep within my heart. This is not easy to do when you've grown into a pattern of worrying or when there are distractions everywhere.  But it turns out that concentrating on my pain and my wounds only irritates them further. I must become the trapeze artist who trusts that there is a net underneath me that will carry me, if only I will focus on the immediate task at hand.  There really is something to all of this Eckhart Tolle-being-present stuff.

God, or whatever you may call him/her - Mother, Father, Spirit, Inner Voice, The Universe - knows our wounds thoroughly and it is to her we must turn if we are ever to receive healing.