With a news cycle replete with environmental and geo-political crises, it’s hard not to feel as though the world we live in is broken and spiraling to ruin. And ‘yes’, that is a choice you can make. You can choose despair over hope, resignation over faith. Yet, it is also the season of spiritual renewal, a time in which we celebrate the juxtaposition of the frailty of the newborn, one with whom such vast hope and forgiveness lies.
Much of the fear we project onto the world today stems from our inability to contend with the brokenness and insecurities we each carry inside of us. We live in a time in which individual autonomy is sacrosanct, and with that, a belief that vulnerability and perceived difference is to be buried and shuttered away. In part, this fraud has been perpetrated by social media, a platform that has failed to deliver the authentic connection we so desperately long for. To make matters worse, during this holiday season, a time when sanitized-picture-perfect family posts fill our social media feeds, that sense of disconnection is further exacerbated. Those feelings of inadequacy are heightened as we compare our “low-lights” to the highlights of others. But what if we were to step back for a moment? What if we were to actively choose to sit with that discomfort bubbling up inside us?
Our physical and spiritual wounds—those parts of us we choose to forget—are in fact, sacred places of remembering. We so seldom open ourselves to lessons held within those places of discomfort because to rest within their echoes, requires a tacit agreement that some wounds are too deep to be healed, too resonant to be silenced, and too unwieldy to be neatly tidied away and forgotten.
I’m reminded of the work of Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, someone who has spent much of her medical career counseling individuals living with chronic and terminal illness. In much of her writings, Rachel draws upon the wisdom she learned from her grandfather, an Orthodox rabbi and scholar, a deeply devout man who taught his young granddaughter that the joys, sorrows, and wounds endemic to our life are the very things that inevitably come to be woven into the blessings and graces that serve to support us through our shared humanity. “Sometimes”, according to Rachel, “a wound is a place where we encounter life for the first time, where we come to know its power and its ways. Wounded, we may find a wisdom that will enable us to live better than any knowledge and glimpse a view of ourselves and of life that is both true and unexpected.”
And so, it’s as though each of us reaches a moment of reckoning, an arrival to a threshold, a liminal place rife with uncertainty, yet brimming with possibility. By entrusting ourselves to those brave individuals who have passed through this fragile space before us, we become awakened to the grace of self-forgiveness, a process whereby we begin to fully inhabit our life accepting that it is our vulnerabilities that make us whole. And perhaps it is our wholehearted embrace of our imperfection that binds us to a greater story that we are all very much a part of. To heal individually requires we reach outward towards the spiritual and physical wounds of others, and in so doing, bear witness to life’s divine purpose—the act of becoming.
As we move along in this holiday season, I invite you to revisit those liminal places within you, the spiritual and emotional wounds that continue to rumble and ache. So often in our quest to be resilient, we have chosen to ignore and forget, whereas in order to be radiantly resilient, we ought to revisit, embrace, and awaken to the vulnerability each of us covers in darkness. Our capacity to bless one another’s wounds with grace is the most sacred gift of this season.