The Grace of Healing Our Original Wounds

January 3, 2018

 

We all have them, the kinds of childhood scars that seemingly never heal and keep us from being in touch with our innermost self. They are like thick protective scabs, beneath which our self is still raw and tender. We think that crusty exterior shields us from more harm, when all it does is keep the light outside. One of my earliest wounds was religious. I was in the first or second grade, living in Orem, Utah, and a small group of my fellow classmates, who were not, refused to play with me. I complained to the teacher, who turned to them and asked why they wouldn’t play with me. One of them said to her, in a hushed voice, as if discreetly gossiping, “He’s Catholic!” I remember the tears welling up inside, a hot coal of shame burning in my chest, when she replied, “It’s not his fault,” in a tone that said it was.* From that day on, I turned my back on God, on all religion, in any form. I could not understand why one label meant inclusion, and another exclusion. I did not want to live in a world where children couldn’t play together based on words. That wound closed me off, for decades, from my true self. I don’t lament that loss of time, though. It was a period of incubation. At the right moment, the scab was torn off, in dramatic fashion, and the light poured in, in a moment of grace. That’s often what life is about: healing from our childhood wounds, and realizing that they too were a form of grace, offering us an opportunity to recover parts of ourselves that were once lost, and to revel in the joy of the reunion.

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