Tuesday, November 3, 2015

delayed emergency surgery

A harsh awakening--
a startle, and a cry--
a glance towards the phone,
to be sure that you 
still breathe,
that your death was just a dream.
Two weeks is too long to wait
to rid myself of your weight.

Suddenly, it's all become quite clear: if we do not heal our own wounds. Or rather, if we do not find healing for our wounds--
if our wounds are not healed, somehow--
or, at the very least, if the process of healing has not yet begun, has not yet been attempted, then we will simply pass on those wounds to others.

If we never fight the voice inside of us that tells us we are only beautiful and worthy, only healthy and happy at one hundred two point two pounds, then we will never be able to validate the beauty and the worth of others.

If we never wrestle with the hurt inside of us that screams instead of praying, that reaches for anger instead of for mercy, that points barbed arrows of blame, instead of painting the larger picture, then we will never discover how to forgive.

If we never find the core of selfishness inside of us, and work to dismantle it, bit-by-bit, it will choke out all our goodness. There is a tiny seed of self-interest inside of us. Like the wheats and the tares, self-interest and virtue grow side-by-side. We seek to do good work and make good things, because it is right to do so. We cultivate our talents, and network charmingly, and smile at our colleagues, because it is good to do so. It also, apparently, gets us "ahead in the world."

But that selfishness has to be quaffed.

Otherwise it will grow, and grow, and lead you to twist the world into the ugliest of images: yourself. Your vision distorted, your sense of judgement off-kilter.

Wounds do not just sit quietly on our hearts, they reach out into the world around us and mark it with mirror images of themselves, leaving a trail of nasty, jagged scars in their wake.

This is why I always wonder why my students insist that original sin was "one person doing something wrong so long ago, it's got nothing to do with me, my baby brother. What did they ever do wrong?"

Nothing, of course. A baby did nothing wrong. It did not intend to cause its mother horrible pain in childbirth, but it did. The most joyful act in the world: the entrance of new life into the light of day becomes a gruesome--and sometimes fatal--agony for the mother.

How could this be, unless there is some ancient sin, a rupture and a wound so deadly, that its scar still puckers the fabric of our world today. The break of selfishness into the cosmos of love, the advent of self-interest in the economy of gift, the fall into the chaos of hurt from the order of receiving freely was so cataclysmic, we still reel from it today.

We reenact this original sin as our own wounds fester, unhealed; our grudges lie, unforgiven. We reenact this macabre drama. This story of hurt breeding hurt.

To delay the forgiveness of these grievances, to delay the healing of these wounds seems as foolish as delaying an appendectomy or a gastric bypass surgery. And yet we do. We delay, we stall, we procrastinate our peace.

We think: tomorrow will be the day.
But tomorrow never will be the day, if we cling so desperately, grasp so tightly to our yesterday.

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