Sacred Wounds

“Pain teaches us a most counterintuitive thing–that we must go down before we even know what up is. In terms of the ego, most religions teach in some way that all must “die before they die.” Suffering of some sort seems to be the only thing strong enough to destabilize our arrogance and our ignorance. I would define suffering very simply as “whenever you are not in control.”

If religion cannot find a meaning for human suffering, humanity is in major trouble. All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere, inside and outside of the church. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do no know where to put it.

If there isn’t some way to find some deeper meaning to our suffering, to find that God is somehow in it, and can even use it for good, we will normally close up and close down. The natural movement of the ego is to protect itself so as not to hurt again.

Biblical revelation is about transforming history and individuals so that we don’t just keep handing the pain onto the next generation. That tit-for-tat, quid-pro-quo mentality has controlled most of human history. Exporting our unresolved hurt is almost the underlying story line of human history, so you see why people still need healthy spirituality and healthy religion.”

Richard Rohr–Things Hidden


7 thoughts on “Sacred Wounds

  1. This is what scares me about our current culture–the drive for comfort. We don’t know how to handle pain or fear anymore, and we build little bubbles to protect ourselves.

  2. Jamie, that’s not true…we get prescriptions to protect ourselves.

    This is an interesting section…I hadn’t really thought about religion teaching what to do with the suffering. Where I disagree though is that God is some how RESPONSIBLE for the suffering. Any thought that God could have a part in causing suffering as some sort of ‘test’ seems to take away from free will.

    I think its this sort of thinking that turns so many people ‘off’ to God after a tragedy. phrases like ‘oh its part of Gods plan’ or ‘God never gives us what we can’t handle’…that would just make me think of God as…well…sadistic.

  3. I’m sorry Keith, I don’t really understand what I said that had to do with prescriptions. I would generally say that there is a place for medication, but I would also generally say that we are overmedicated as a culture.

    Perhaps I should clarify that I think we try to escape all kinds of pain instead of confronting and learning from it–emotional, spiritual, physical–we turn to entertainment, relationships, drugs/alcohol, the internet for comfort and distraction.

  4. Jamie, I was just making a ‘joke’ well…more of a commentary. I was saying we don’t build bubbles, we get medicated. No disrespect intended to your post.

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