Musing 11.6.20

The voting is done, and we wait on the count and results. During this time the calls for healing of our country have begun. There is acknowledgement that we are very divided, and we need to come together. Sometimes the speaker seems to think that this acknowledgement and desire are sufficient for healing. It seems so easy.

We know from personal experience that healing is neither easy nor painless. Surgery, recovery, and rehabilitation are lengthy and exhausting. Chemotherapy and radiation are often sickening. Frequently healing involves more suffering on the journey to health and wholeness. When we remember the healing which Christ brings, we remember it in terms of redemptive suffering. “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5).

If we are serious about healing, we must bear in mind that it is a commitment which demands sacrifice and humility. We tend to think this is required for the other guy, but it is definitely true for me. The healings which Jesus performed were more than cures, they were transformations. If we are serious about healing, we should be ready to be changed. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.” We take the first step; we don’t wait for the other person.

The divide in our country is aggravated by how we think and speak of the other. We have objectified and demonized each other. The well-known poem “For everything there is a season” in the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, is a series of paired opposites. Born/die, plant/reap, weep/laugh. The opposite for “a time to heal” is “a time to kill.” As I think about the speeches, articles, and ads for the campaign, each side accused the other of essentially killing the country. The campaign was a time for killing language. If we are serious about healing, now is the time for healing language.

This is a long quotation from Joan Chittister’s There Is a Season, but it is worth reading to the end.

There are two obstacles to being healed. The first lies in our attachment to the pain. We cannot heal ourselves of the pains to which we cling. We have to want to be healed. We cannot wear injustice like a red badge of courage and hope to rise from it. Even before we are vindicated, even before restitution comes – if it ever comes – we ourselves must move beyond it, outside of it, despite it.

Healing depends on our wanting to be well. I may not forget the blows I have suffered in life, but I must not choose to live under their power forever. Most of all, I must not choose to imprison myself in my own pain. Whatever has mutilated us – the betrayal, the dishonesty, the mockery, the broken promises - there is more to life than that. The first step of healing, then, is to find new joy for myself to tide me through the terror of the abandonment. It is time to get a life instead of mourning one. When the beating is over, there is nothing to do but to get up and go on, in a different direction to sure, but on, definitely on.

The second step in healing is to find new ideas in which to live. Whatever we needed before the breakpoint came – security, love, connectedness, certainty, identity - we must find it someplace else. We must put our hope in risk and find it challenging, in self and find it strong, in newness and find it enough.

The third step to healing is to trust ourselves to someone else just when we think we cannot trust anyone or anything at all. Just when we are not sure who the enemy really is, we must risk confidence in someone again. It is a false and hollow cure that ends with a sterile handshake. Healing comes for both the beaten and the intellectually bound when they step across the lines in their minds and hope that this time, in this person, in this situation, they will find the acceptance, the enlightenment, needed to join the human
community one more time (pp.49-50).

Healing is about a new level of compassion. It finds the other important. And it finds importance in one’s own life.

I’ll close with a prayer from the United Methodist healing service.

May the power of God’s indwelling presence heal you [and our nation] of all illnesses – of body, mind, spirit, and relationships- that you may serve God with a loving heart. Amen.

Hope you are safe and well.