"Blossoms in the Wilderness"
While reading about the frantic effort to find a cure for the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa, the word "cure" particularly stuck with me and I was especially reminded of the fact that, although people often confuse the two words, there is a big difference between being "cured" and being "healed." A cure is sometimes not available, but healing is always possible.
People get sick and they go to a doctor to be cured - they are given pills, undergo radiation treatment, or have surgery in the hopes that their ailment will go away and everything will be fine again. Healing, on the other hand is something very different. Healing happens when people recognize and share their mutual weakness, emptiness and pain, then stand together in solidarity and support.
I know many people who were very sick and were never cured of their disease, and yet they were healed and lived out their days "fully alive" and whole.
The psychiatrist, M Scott Peck once wrote:
How strange that we should feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded. Love demands the ability to expose our wounds and our weaknesses to our fellow creatures. It also requires the ability to be affected by the wounds of others. But even more important is that healing happens when we share our common woundedness.
I find such great wisdom in this.
We are indeed all wounded - sometimes the wounds take the form of a physical ailment, sometimes they appear as an addiction, a deep sadness, a doubt, loneliness, rejection. No one's life is ever perfectly sweet and always nice and happy.
Yet, many times people feel they must hide their wounded self for fear they will be rejected by those who are stronger and "have it all together." At times people reach out for a cure, but "healing" only happens when we are vulnerable enough to share our common weaknesses, standing in support and solidarity with one another, living within both the shadows and the light of our common shared humanity.
When a human being exposes his or her wounds to another suffering creature healing happens: "I've been there, done that, I too have been in the depths of despair; I also suffer from addiction, my husband died last year, I have cancer too."
Healers are always wounded people who are aware, courageous and vulnerable enough to expose their wounds to other wounded people.
It's always so interesting to me to observe how often religious people and people on a spiritual journey are particularly prone to hiding their own wounded natures. Many religious people think that if they aren't perfect, holy, upstanding citizens, they will be rejected by "God" or by their fellow believers. So more often than not, they hide their woundedness and mask their weaknesses. Yet to be human is to be wounded and what better place for people to be "wounded healers" for one another than while sitting in a pew or on a prayer mat.
Saint Paul once voiced the great paradox of the human condition:
Our weakness is our strength.
I say Amen to that!