For the Suffering One, May Our Redeemer Make All Things New
I have spent this last year on me. That sounds terribly selfish, but it was anything but selfish.
It was painful to revisit sorrows and violations. It was difficult to release the offenses and trust God to do with all of it whatever He wills.
I am still raw. The scars are red, though healed. They reveal a new stage of the process.
My journey began a year ago, during the Pro-Life March, in the wake of the Women’s March. I wrestled with a question: What makes one woman angry and another at peace when many or most have been wounded by the world?
More directly, what makes me angry or at peace when I have been wounded? I know which I choose, but sometimes, the emotions wouldn’t leave me alone. Sometimes they fed my dreams. A violence that scared me. A sign of delayed-onset PTSD.
My priest (and spiritual director) was on the front line of this battle. He called me to a new thought. An open heart and mind.
You have plodded on through this for decades. Filled in the gaps and spaces. But God has healing on this side of eternity, if you will it. If you want it. Or, you can keep going as you are, waiting for healing in eternity.
Filling in the spaces means you avoid the acute pain of healing; it means you try to steer the future in a direction you are comfortable with going.
But I was not made for avoidance or a false sense of control. I was made for redemption.
After returning from my last retreat in the Holy Land (an annual event for me), I began the process of going deep and digging up the misery.
Even now, as I sit at this computer, I feel tears behind my eyes and my shoulders feel weak–like I lifted free weights beyond my ability.
Yesterday and a few weeks ago, I felt sorrow. Deep sadness. And I don’t always know why or how to stop it.
About a year ago, the realization that there are many more who suffer awakened in me a deep empathy. It didn’t matter what had hurt them. All that mattered was they were hurt. Hurting. Lost in sorrow, anger, patterns of false-control, easily badgered and violated by both low-level predators and fully-conscious predators.
And I felt a new hurt. Their hurt.
That was the genesis of the booklet Stations of the Cross for a Wounded World.
We scoop up the wounds and walk with Jesus. We place the wounds in the Tomb. And we experience the Fifteenth Station of the Cross, the Resurrection of Our Lord and Redeemer. Jesus Christ has redeemed the world, and He has redeemed each wound.
This is not a journey for one who wants to hide from painful memories, but the One who can carry us through to healing and redemption is right there.
You may go to the edge of yourself and feel quite lost, but you will find your true self when you sit with your confessor and spiritual director.
You will begin to help others.
Let me say that again.
You will become an instrument for healing in the lives of others.
I have struggled to come up with a Lenten Promise for this year. But it has been there all along. He wants me to do something with the empathy.
He has permitted so much to be lost so that I will know what it is like to lose.
He has permitted violation so that I will know what it is like to be violated.
He has permitted loneliness so that I will know what it is like to be lonely.
He has permitted abandonment so that I will know what it is like to be abandoned.
He has permitted nightmares and anger so that I will hunger for peace.
He has permitted people into my life who trespass on boundaries so that I will learn how to set boundaries and guard them.
He has permitted the darkness so that I will crave the Light.
And He has permitted all these things so that I will move beyond myself and see you.
I do … see you.
I wrote it for you.