A Crack in Everything

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The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be

Ah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen from “Anthem”

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Our cracks expand with age:
do they not heal as quickly
or are we more brittle than before?

I know how my eyes leak,
my heart feels more porous.
The events of the day break me open even wider.

Let the light pour in
and illuminate our wounds old and new.
Let the world know
that from the hurt comes healing.

May we become the perfect offering.

 

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To Leave Nothing Concealed

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In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.
~Brennan Manning from Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging

 

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Jesus is God’s wounded healer: through his wounds we are healed. Jesus’ suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; his rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.

Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others….We have to trust that our own bandaged wounds will allow us to listen to others with our whole being. That is healing.
— Henri Nouwen from Bread for the Journey

 

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There are unconcealed and transparent wounds all around me today.  Our yard is frozen in time with glaze ice entrapping newly budded twigs alongside glass-like showcases of old dead weeds.  Some forty foot trees are bent over in half, their tops brushing the ground, burdened with such a heavy load.  During the northeast wind last night we heard crack after crack as branches gave way, unable to sustain in such conditions.

This morning, in the illumination of day light,  it looks like a tornado hit the yard — broken branches and wounded trees everywhere. The wind continues and the temperatures stay sub-freezing.  Winter is not done messing with us yet.

It is conditions like earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, firestorms and silver thaws that remind us how little control we have over our environment and how much control it has over us. Being unable to walk anywhere outdoors that isn’t coated with ice is a humbling, helpless feeling. Yet I’m grateful for the reminder of our helplessness and woundedness. We dwell in this often hostile world and try to steward it, but we adapt to it, not the world adapting to us. We cannot stop the frozen rain from falling, but must wait patiently for the southerly winds to blow.

In fact, the warming and healing will come. Soon will I listen out our back door to the south, and hear the frozen trees in our woods knocking their branches together in a noisy cacophony as the south wind warms the ice, causing chunks to drop from the branches, clattering and clacking their way to the ground.

…from stony frozen silence of the wounded to animated noisemakers with a steady puff of warm wind.
…from bleeding to bandaged thanks to the warmth of family, a friend, a neighbor.

At times when I’m iced over –
rigid in my opinions, frozen in emotion, silent and cocooned –
the approach of a warm touch, an empathetic word, or heartfelt outreach breaks me free.

Perhaps I remain frostbitten around the edges, but I am whole again, grateful for the healing of the warm wind.

It is well worth the wait.

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Broken on the Wheels of Living

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Without your wound where would your power be?
It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men.
The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth
as can one human being broken on the wheels of living.

In love’s service, only the wounded soldiers can serve.
~Thornton Wilder from “The Angel That Troubled the Waters

 

We wound and are wounded in ways seen and unseen,
not always regretful at the hurts we cause,
ever sorrowful for the hurts we bear,
living broken, churning through our days.

The wheel keeps turning, stirring up troubled waters.
Evening to morning, morning to darkness,
a healing angel
extends a hand
and invites us to get our feet wet.

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Sacred Scalp

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He was stealing from me.  The first time I saw just a flash of gray ringed tail disappearing into the autumn night mist as I opened the back door to pour kibble into the empty cat dish on the porch.  Another stray cat among many who visit the farm.  A few stay to become “our” cats.

He did stay over the past year, keeping a distance in the shadows under the trees. A gray tabby with white nose and bib, serious yet skittish, would watch me as I moved about feeding dogs, cats, birds, horses. He would creep to the cat dish only when the others drifted away.

There was something in the way he held his head.  A floppy forward ear betrayed hidden wounds I could not approach close enough to see. I startled him one day as he ate his fill at the dish. He ran away, the back of his head looking like he wore a red cap.  His back scalp was completely missing from forehead to neck, not oozing or actively bleeding, so not something new.

This was a nearly mortal injury from a too close encounter with a coyote, or bald eagle or bobcat—his attacker only got away with part of him.

This cat was fighting for survival through his trauma and pain, his tissue raw, still trying to heal.  He had chosen to live.

My first inclination was to trap him, to put him humanely to sleep to end what must be obvious suffering.  In truth, I wanted to end my distress at seeing him every day.  My mind’s eye would envision the florid flesh even as he hunkered invisible in the shadowlands of the blackberry thicket.  Yet his disfigurement did not keep him from eating well or keeping clean his pristine fur.

As much as I wanted to look away, to not confront his mutilation, I began greeting him from a distance, honoring his maimed courage, through the icy blasts of winter, and four foot snow, through cleansing spring rains and humid summer heat with sticky flies.  Still his scar never quite healed, a sanguine reminder of mortality.

I never will stroke that silky fur, or feel his burly purr,  because I think he still knows how.

But I feed him his daily fill, as he feeds my need to recall:

Each breath he takes is sacred air, no matter how obvious or hidden may be his wounds, nor how much, because he lives,  he bleeds deep red.