(a chapel within the cathedral of Canterbury, may 2008)
A clenched heart cannot shake hands with peace and without peace, freedom is out of reach. Freedom from shame. Freedom to live out the ministry of God. Our primary responsibility on this planet is to recognize each other as one in the same in order to reconcile our differences. But, we are never going to be able to reach a place of reconciliation if we don't find a way to calm the internal conflict between body and soul. What I'm thinking though is that it goes hand in hand. We reach out to help reconcile our community, whether it's our neighbourhood or beyond and in tandem, we begin to reconcile the conflict in ourselves. Salve works both externally and internally simultaneously sometimes.
One of the most difficult things to do is to let go of our own hurt because it is tied tightly to the muscle man feelings....anger, guilt, fear, resentment who love to do battle. They make us feel like unworthy weaklings....... they slam us into a wall of shame, and corner us sometimes for so long that we begin to believe we deserve it. All of a sudden, the way we see ourselves is skewed, that we are forever broken and ruined because we have allowed the self battering to win. Penance is the only answer we begin to believe as we enter into an internal flogging. Joy is strippped of its light and what is left is sorrowful suffering walking in a shell of what used to be.
Rather than recognizing the interconnectivity......ourselves to others, we allow our personal feelings to invade our thinking and we turn inward. We have allowed our thinking to impact our behaviour. We have allowed our actions to make our bodies feel like its been hit by a wrecking ball. Why? Because the muscle men feelings have pushed away the very thought of forgiveness and reconciliation.
Why is it we are more inclined to forgive others really big things and we can't learn to forgive ourselves? Others can get away with just about anything and we have the capacity to help them mediate their way through to finding that freedom from shame. But when it comes to doing the same for ourselves, we keep adding layers upon layers of blanketing blame that only leads to a empty sense of eternal poverty.
Forgiveness and reconciliation begins in the backyards of our souls, where others in our lives will meet us to help lift the layers to reveal our own beauty again.
Yesterday, I met a true diamond in the rough who shared some of his personal story as a means to explain the passion he feels about the work he would like to pursue. He wants to work in the trenches of the frontlines. He wants to help those bruised kids who can't quite let go of their anger, guilt, fear and resentment brought on by shit luck and a life of violence, addictions and inconsistent guidance. Why, I asked?
Because he wants to continue with his own reconciliation and wants to pass on some of the lessons he has learned along the way. This man, who knows what other uncut, unpolished diamonds look like and can see the sparkle potential. He's ready to make the leap into helping others heal and reconcile because he has forgiven enough to unclench his heart. He also wants to learn more.......about himself as he unravels more of his own story.
Compassion begins by loving who we are and what we can offer ...... compassion is the essential oil of reconciliation. We all have it in us..... we all have it to give. Our ministry never ends. WE just need to unclench the heart.
**my thoughts were stirred by a little Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen, and an encounter with a diamond in the rough...**