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Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Wounded Healer

   Every once in a while, my husband turns to me and says "you should really blog about this!"  He had been reading Henri Nouwen again in his book "Home Tonight", which is a reflection of the story of the prodigal son.

  Nouwen, in this book, reflects on the famous Rembrandt painting, "The Prodigal Son", and he says "I stand in awe at the place where Rembrandt brought me.  He led me from the kneeling disheveled young son to the standing, bent-over old father, from the place of being blessed to the place of blessing.  As I look at my own aging hands, I know that they have been given to me to stretch out toward all who suffer, to rest upon the shoulders of all who come, and to offer the blessing that emerges from the immensity of God's love."  (The Return of the Prodigal Son, by Henri J.M. Nouwen, Doubleday, New York, p. 129)

  When I gaze on this picture, my first thought is of our Heavenly Father, and his loving, compassionate touch on our lives - loving and accepting us as we are, where we are.  He is the one who blesses, who heals, who forgives...

  I also see Him through the faces of my friends.... those who know me and love me, and listen and care.  I experienced this again yesterday as I met with two of them for a time of reflection and prayer.

  There are times where I just want to move on to the "healer" part... but get stuck in the muck of the "wounded".  Lately I have experienced much pain due to a shoulder injury that just won't heal.  After another sleepless night, I ponder these things.  I think about the man with the withered arm whom Jesus healed.  I want to insert myself into that Gospel story and reach out to Jesus... "pick me, pick me!!"

  And yet I know that even in pain, there is so much to learn.  Oh yes, I joke I am a slow learner.  But in visiting the sick, I too know what it means to have chronic pain.  I understand the sleepless nights.  I know the frustration of not being well.  And I know the blessing of receiving the love and care of friends.

  And being blessed, even in this place of weakness, I too can have compassion and empathy for others.  I love the phrase, the wounded healer (another title of Nouwen's many books).  I think of the famous line "by His stripes we are healed", and Jesus is our ultimate model, as He allowed himself to suffer on our behalf.  So again, I kneel at his feet, as in this beautiful picture, and want to rest in His presence, to experience His touch, His healing.

  And I pray that I too can aspire to bless others, as I have been blessed.

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