“The thing prayer has taught me is that I’m loved. Even though sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that, I’ve found that there is a place where it’s really, really safe and welcoming, and I can really be my broken self. There is a safe place, and that’s in prayer. I can’t bring all of my brokenness to any one place in this physical world, but I can bring it to prayer. And I can let go, and still know that I’m loved. And that, I think, is the essence of what Henri tried to teach me.” -- Lorenzo Sforza-Cesarini, speaking of Henri Nouwen in Befriending Life
“After Henri met Anton Boisen, founder of the clinical pastoral counseling movement, he wrote of how Boisen’s ‘deep wound had become a source of beauty in which even the weaknesses seem to give light.’ … The wounded healer becomes a transparent icon, a window through which we can see who we are and why we are.” -- George Strohmeyer, in Befriending Life
I’m up on Shaw, just for a day, and went out this morning with my camera; somehow the beauty here never ceases to amaze me. For some reason I find this shot of the ferry leaving the island very moving, but I think it’s because I’ve been spending my time here carrying my goodbyes and losses and other broken bits into prayer.
I’ve been listening to a series of lectures by Pema Chodron on getting unstuck, and one thing she said particularly resonated: it’s that everything that arises during meditation is fresh, and the essence of realization. As a regular practitioner of Centering Prayer, I have this tendency to believe I need to step away from what arises and go back to center. So to honor what arises in this way is quite lovely.
Making a decision to accept and honor what arises somehow makes meditation feel closer to prayer; somehow makes it more acceptable to be me, to carry all that I am into that meditation space and lay it before God. So then, reading the first quote above, I found myself thinking, Oh, I could bring that broken part of me into meditation? I don’t have to leave it behind or shut it down when it speaks up?
And of course the second quotation confirms and expands that, saying that our wounded and broken places have value, and have a gift to offer the rest of the world; that they allow us to become another window into divine truth.
And so I can look at the ferry, leaving, and allow it to be a symbol without asking any more or less of either myself or the image. I can just feel, let the feelings arise, and that’s okay. And I can share it with you without shame, just allow it to be what it is for you – which might be something completely different than what it brings up for me.