The Longest Journey
Last week we explored letting go. Letting go of our sense of how things should be. Letting go of our desire for a carefully ordered existence. Letting go in order to take hold of the emergent new. As Professor Bob Quinn reminds us: “Our ability to change is predicated on our ability to let go.” But, letting go is just the first step. With letting go comes the invitation to restore.
Restore | katartizo
My wound is my geography. It is also my anchorage; my port of call. Pat Conroy
Our restoration as people and as a planet will not come without intention. The polarization runs deep. We remain divided. As with letting go, restoration begins at the level of self with the healing of wounds.
Wounds. Not simply the kind you see on the outside, rather the deep-inside kind. The kind of wounds that Pat Conroy reflects on in the opening lines of his thinly disguised biography, The Prince of Tides: “My wound is my geography. It is also my anchorage; my port of call.” Growing up in an abusive household, the wounds ran deep. Today, abuse on every level seems rampant.
Five Kinds of Trauma
A colleague of mine tells me that wounds are born of five kinds of trauma. The wounds of:
- Withholding, that is, not getting what we need to be whole and healthy.
- Aggression, receiving what we did not need in the form of physical abuse.
- Loss, in the form death, illness and/or accident.
- Betrayal, born of emotional abuse and manipulation.
- Prolonged duress, as experienced in war, natural disaster, and situations of chronic stress.
Our continuing political divide across the globe, the unremitting violence, the ever-deepening economic inequality, the increasing abuse against those who are different color and/or sexual orientation, the daily destruction of creation, and/or (you fill in the blank) reflects the heavy cost of trauma, post and present. Daily there is relational fall-out, resulting from poor decisions made on every level. Like aftershocks, social media increases fear and spreads distrust. All the while, the fault lines are growing as we continue to respond with incremental “fixes” to circumstances that can only be addressed by restoring the soul of our integrity.
Yet, there is hope. If geography is the study of the earth, then our wounds are the study of traumas that have shaped and formed us. If we trace the geography of our wounds, they can become for us a source of healing and restoration; a foundation upon which to build. It is then that we come to experience the paradoxical reality that wholeness can be born out of brokenness.
There is danger, of course. In our vulnerability, many prefer cut-off. We ignore our wounds at great peril to self and community. Rather than providing the means by which wholeness is sought, our wounds become an underground source of disruptive emotions and dysfunctional behaviors. In response, we over-focus on behaviors and emotions—sometimes our own, more often that of others—trying to manipulate, failing to address the root wound.
Often, our need for healing is revealed in an unhealthy response to a life situation rooted in false beliefs. We stay on the surface, never digging beneath the reactivity. But, as poet and artist Jan Richardson reminds us: “Somewhere beneath our hungers are maps… there is a geography to our desires… our yearnings possess longitude and latitude… if we follow their lines, they can help us find our way.”
It is time to name the root wounds—our own, society’s and the planet—so that we can might begin to heal, at the level of self, family, community, nation and creation. When we dare to name our wounds, we are released to experience truth and acceptance about ourselves and others. With acceptance comes peace. Just as Pat Conway’s wounds provided deep inspiration for his writing, so our wounds can and will provide inspiration for our leadership. The koine Greek word for restore is katartizo. It means to mend what is broken, to repair and restore. It is also translated as equip, with the ethical intent of strengthening and making what one ought to be.
With our restoration comes equipping for life. When we dare to seek restoration, we find our choices emerge from a place of healing that neither reduces nor hides from the brokenness, but instead draws life from them.
In a time when many superficial voices speak, those who dare articulate the pain of the wounds intuit a way forward that offers healing and wholeness not just on an individual level, but also on a family, community and societal level. If indeed, a large portion of our anxiety is tied to systemic challenges, then they must be addressed systemically, beginning at the level of self. Our centralized structures were not built for our global world.
Deep down, we know that we all have wounds in need of healing. Put another way, we all got stuff. I got stuff. You got stuff. How might our stuff serve as our port of call toward the flourishing of our communities? How might we reclaim our agency? Not in spite of the trauma, but through claiming the wholeness born of our brokenness. Therein, lies the hidden gift.
Questions for Reflection
- Are you able to name both ancestral and childhood wounds that have impacted who you are today?
- What situations most easily trigger you?
- Take some time to explore any possible connections between the two.
Practice: Tracing the Geography of Our Wounds
Wounds and roots, they go together. One of my favorite desert wisdom sayings comes from Abba Poeman: The greater the hollow carved out in grief, the more room for joy to dwell therein. The paradox of wounds is that out of our brokenness, can come healing when we claim the fullness of our stories.
This next week download and print out google maps of places where you have lived. Create a collage and then grab some colored pens to annotate the journey. As you trace the latitude and longitude of your life, what in you deserves the gift of restoration?