Wounds, healing, light

punky gampa and abuela punk 1

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.
― Rumi

I remember years ago at a workshop meeting a woman who was a potter, and who talked about creating a beautiful jar which had subsequently crashed to the ground and broken into many pieces, from the large to the minute. She was going through some very difficult times and this accident sent her right over the edge… but as an exercise in healing and in patience, she was set the task of gluing back the pieces until it was all together, an enterprise that was harder, in many ways, than her original creation of the jar. The thing that happened, though, is that through the small cracks in the reconstituted jar, you could see rays of sunlight, which was almost a poem in and of itself… and therein lies a tale.

There is so much brokenness in each of us, either from plain old living or from the circumstances of our lives, our upbringing, our relationship with parents, siblings, friends, enemies, or with society in general. For some people (and for a time), circumstances conspire to free them or to preserve them from brokenness, and sometimes this leads to a complete lack of understanding of the brokenness of others. It may lead to judgment, and to a closed heart. And sometimes the suffering itself may lead to the heart closing down, to the emotions becoming superannuated, to the death in life of the man or woman who suffers.

We recently celebrated (on the wrong day, of course, as we do in this nation of three-day holidays, which remove the holy from the particular date in question) the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said on the issue of suffering: “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” This choice is always open to every one of us, to transform suffering into a creative force. But oh, how hard it is to do this… the soul may be wise, but it is encased in the fallible body, which sometimes swims and delights in suffering, in self-pity, and at times, in thoughts of revenge. Ghandi, who seems to have thought deeply about suffering, has this to say:

“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
– I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
– I shall fear only God.
– I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
– I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
– I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”

Perhaps suffering is like a spice which adds piquancy to the broth… Perhaps it is a color which adds depth to the artist’s palette… Jonathan Safran Foer in his wonderful novel, Everything Is Illuminated, talks about the strands of sadness, its subtle nuances, his character being “a prism through which sadness could be divided into its infinite spectrum.”

For Jim

You wooed me with poetry,
and revolution,
and lines
from La Boheme:
che gelida manina.

As I lay in the crook
of your thinning arm,
you decried
time’s thievery.
No time, alas,

for butterflies
or kindred tales,
for love kisses
stolen at noon,
for walks

in early dawn;
I waited in our house
for your return,
dagger in hand,
time’s petals strewn

upon your cooling
Un bel di,
love’s eternal light.

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