Healing: An Article Written by Keith Duplechain
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!! I cannot recall in my 64 years ever looking forward to the new year more than now. This past year has been filled with sickness, death, racial unrest, divisiveness and isolation. In the midst of all this, where do we find hope? Many people are pinning their hopes on new leadership and vaccines. I pray that both of these lead to better days ahead. In terms of divisiveness, I believe that true and lasting hope for the future can only come from the healing of our individual wounds.
I say this because I believe much of the divisiveness in our country is driven by two things – fear and anger. Furthermore, I believe the source of this fear and anger is our own personal woundedness. Father Richard Rohr, OFM, has said, in reference to our woundedness, that what we do not transform we transmit.
How do we begin to heal? I am no expert on “shadow work”, but I feel the Holy Spirit has put it on my heart to share my own experience in this area. I was in my late 30’s before I even realized I had a wound and what the cause of that wound was. My dad’s death left a huge hole in my life, larger than I could ever have imagined. I grieved not only for his absence in my life, but also for all the things left unsaid between us. In time my grief turned to anger, not at my dad, but at myself for the way I had treated him. I transmitted this anger at my wife and children. I did not even understand why I was angry. Eventually, with the help, patience, love and forgiveness of my family, I came to understand my father wound and began the healing process. The healing of that wound continues, almost 30 years after my becoming aware of it.
The reason I am sharing this is because I believe that instead of dealing with our woundedness we look outward instead of inward. We are angry and we are not sure why. We are afraid to look inward because we are afraid of what we may find there. We look outside of ourselves for ways to express the anger and fear we are feeling. As a result, we give full reign to our ego (false self).
Two things happen when our ego is in charge – 1) we gravitate to individuals and/or groups that reinforce that feed or reaffirm our ego and 2) we find an enemy or other to vent our anger on and blame our fear on. With the ego in charge there is little room for humility, compassion, forgiveness and understanding. Instead of concern for the greater good, the concern becomes, “What’s in it for me?’
The problem with living out of the false self is that it is not sustainable. It gives us a false sense of being in control. Sooner or later life comes crashing in (e.g., death of a loved one, a failed relationship, loss of a job, sickness, etc.). For me it was the death of my dad. The good news is that these events can be a blessing and/or an awakening for us. Rohr, in his book Falling Upward, The Two Halves of Life, says that many, if not most of us need one of these events to wake us up to the fact of how little control we have over our life, and how much we really need God in our lives. Thus, begins the journey into the second half of life. One of the first steps on this journey is the acknowledgement of our woundedness. Only after we acknowledge our wound or wounds can the healing begin. I use the word journey because the second half of life is not something we just step into, it is something we grow into.
One of the blessings of coming to understand our own woundedness is being able to understand that others are wounded as well, including those we have been angry with and have feared. Another blessing on the journey into the second half of life is the awareness that we are not the center of the universe and life is not all about us. There is a wonderful freedom that comes with this awareness. We rely more and more on God for the things we face in life. We move from an intellectual knowledge of God’s love to a felt knowledge (the journey from the head to the heart).
Finally, my hope is that, as we begin and, progress in, the healing of our woundedness we will see one another, not as the other, but as fellow members in the One Body of Christ. My New Year’s resolution is to continue my own journey into the second half of life and continue the healing process of my woundedness.
God’s blessing on all of you,
Keith is a member of St. Margaret's and is a Spiritual Director