Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken my off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30: 5 b; 11-12 (NRSV)
This blog series on becoming a wounded healer concludes with some quotes from two authors who have lived with and observed the process of turning sorrow and pain into joy.
“Perhaps the main task of the minister [Christ follower] is to prevent people from suffering for the wrong reasons. Many people suffer because of the false supposition on which they have based their lives. That supposition is that there should be no fear or loneliness, no confusion or doubt. But these sufferings can only be dealt with creatively when they are understood as wounds integral to our human condition. Therefore [ministry to others] is a very confronting service. It does not allow people to live with illusions . . . . It keeps reminding others that they are mortal, but that with the recognition of this condition, liberation starts. . . . . When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope” (Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, p. 97).
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“To embrace one’s brokenness, whatever it looks like, whatever has caused it, carries within it the possibility that one might come to embrace one’s healing, and then one might come to the next step: to embrace another and their brokenness and the possibility for being healed. To avoid one’s brokenness is to turn one’s back on the possibility that the Healer might be at work here, perhaps for you, perhaps for another” (Robert Benson, in Living Prayer, quoted in Inward Outward, a website published by the Church of the Saviour website).
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For anyone who has the courage to enter into our human sorrows deeply there is a revelation of joy, hidden like a precious stone in the wall of a dark cave. I got a glimpse of that while living with a very poor family in Pamplona Alta, one of the “young towns” at the outskirts of Lima, Peru. The poverty there was greater than any I had seen before, but when I think back on my three months with Pablo, Maria, and their children, my memories are filled with laughter, smiles, hugs, simple games, and long evenings just sitting around telling stories. Joy, real joy was there, not a joy based on success, progress, or the solution of their poverty, but bursting forth from the resilient human spirit, fully alive in the midst of all odds (Henri Nouwen in Can You Drink the Cup?, p. 50).