this morning I was reading through Lent and Easter: Wisdom From Henri Nouwen. It is a great collection of Nouwen quotes for reading during Lent and Easter that I picked up a couple of years ago. I was struck again by this quote, not because I myself am in a place of struggle and pain but because so many around me are – from those in Haiti who are now inundated with floods in the aftermath of the earthquake, to friends who have lost jobs and others who are being treated for cancer:
Your pain is deep, and it won’t just go away… Your call is to bring that pain home. As long as your wounded part remains foreign to your adult self, your pain will injure you as well as others. Yes, you have to incorporate your pain into your self.
This is what Jesus means when he asks you to take up your cross. He encourages you to recognize and embrace your unique suffering and to trust that your way to salvation lies therein. taking up your cross means, first of all, befriending your wounds and letting them reveal to you your own truth. (p24)
Reading this passage reminded me of a pebble I picked up on the beach shortly after the death of Tom’s son Clint. I call it my stone of remembrance. It is an interesting stone in which light and dark coloured minerals intertwine to form an intricate and intriguing pattern.
This may sound a little strange I know but I have found it helpful to pick up that stone whenever I am in a struggling place and meditate on its pattern. All of life is a pattern of dark and light intertwined. Today it struck me that it is the dark streaks that give the stone its strength. In fact the light rock is soft and crumbly and without the dark streaks it would slowly disappear. How like our lives where the hard dark places strengthen and give shape and form to the soft and vulnerable places of light and laughter. In befriending our pain and our wounds we really do find truth and life. Without our doubts and our pains, our lives would have no depth or endurance.