The Paradox of Healing

In my work I see many people seeking healing, whether it is of body, mind, or spirit.  No one is alone in this longing; we all need healing because we all share in the brokenness that occurs simply because we are human.  The need for healing is universal.

Not only do individuals need healing, but families, workplaces, religious communities, neighborhoods, institutions, and nations need healing.  Today the world cries out for healing:  war, devastation, pollution, violence, climate change are all reminders of our mutual need for healing.  The very earth cries out for healing.

Healing is not a synonym for cure or achieving perfection.  Healing is not about making perfect what was once imperfect.  Our healing will leave scars, a sign of our woundedness.  Yet our scars reveal the beauty of being human; they become a place of light, hospitality, and healing for others.  As one of my favorite poets, the 12th-century Rumi, says:

 A tailor needs a torn garment to practice his expertise.

The trunks of trees must be cut and cut again so they can be used for fine carpentry.

Your doctor must have a broken leg to doctor.

Your defects are the way that glory gets manifested.  

 I love the paradox of these hopeful words:  The cuts and bruises of life do not diminish my work.  They strengthen it.

There is nothing magical about healing.  Healing is not something done to us.  Healing is participatory.  We participate in our own healing and we invite others to participate in our healing process. In fact, healing usually takes place because of the efforts of many individuals.  Friends, family, doctors, nurses, chaplains, counselors, psychiatrists, mentors, and complementary practitioners all bring their various skills and relationships to the patient, enhancing the healing process.

There’s another paradox to healing: While healing requires our laborious participation, healing is gift.   Again, the poet Rumi reminds us of this paradox:

 Don’t turn your head.  Keep looking at the bandaged place.  That’s where the light enters you. 

And don’t believe for a moment that you’re healing yourself.


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