“Without your wounds, where would your power be? It is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men and women. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of the living. In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve. Physician, draw back.” -Thornton Wilder
A few weeks ago I felt like I was choking for days, my breath short and my thoughts scattered over friends who were hurting and struggling, who had been doing so for years. And I read this Wilder excerpt from a Brennan Manning book, and I understood what it said.
The angel tells the physician to draw back and accept his hurt so that he can serve the hurting.
And then I pulled out Seeds by Thomas Merton and read this:
“The saint is not one who accepts suffering because he likes it, and confesses this preference before God and men in order to win a great reward. He is the one who may well hate suffering as much as anybody else, but who so loves Christ, Whom he does not see, that he will allow his love to be proved by any suffering. And he does this not because he thinks it is an achievement, but because the charity of Christ in his heart demands that it be done.”
Three years ago a dear friend got married. I sang in the wedding, sent them off, and headed back home from Joplin. As rain fell, we got in the car, and for a split second thought about roaming Academy Sports while the rain subsided. But that Voice told Travis to drive home, to drive away into the blue, clouded sky of Arkansas and away from the swirling gray of Joplin.
A tornado is a dreadful thing.
It’s a dreadful thing.
This morning I woke up and things felt darker around me, the remembrance bearing down reminders of lost apartments and homes, lost lives, lost town, lost, lost, loss.
A few weeks ago in the coffee shop I wrote a song as I thought about my friend who suffers, and I thought about his sainthood.
And the saints of suffering will find their souls on the mountaintops,
The pain of their bones subsiding, leave it and fly, fly to glory.
I thought about the way he sees God.
Who does he see You as? What words do you speak to him, how do You move his heart, what visions and dreams form in him from the breath of Your lips?
And I thought about Thornton Wilder’s story, that with our wounds, there is power. When we are laid bare and naked before one another and before God, the vulnerability of humanness brings us all healing, and we march on.
A saint is “someone acknowledged as holy”– now, don’t our wounds bring us closer to holiness and wholeness?
Yes, it’s a damn painful thing, but here is reward:
Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.
And he who searches hearts knows what is in the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the SAINTS according to the will of God. -Romans 8:26-27
…the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory, give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the SAINTS, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards us who believe. -Ephesians 1:17-19
We may “well hate suffering” as anyone would, but love is proven in the midst of it, in the healing and in the striving and stretching.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
who received the children who came to You,
receive also from me, Your child, this evening prayer.
Shelter me under the shadow of Your wings,
that in peace I may lie down and sleep;
and waken me in due time,
that I may glorify You,
for You alone are righteous and merciful.
In Love’s service, only wounded soldiers can serve.
Take your wounds and continue to march on, dear ones. March to mountaintops and fly.