"The wound is the place where the Light enters you."
So says Rumi, the Persian poet and Sufi mystic. I have been pondering these words of his on and off throughout the day today, sensing their truth but wondering what they really mean.
My post yesterday made it all sound so easy. The Light of the holy One is merciful and removes our sin and darkness - all we have to do is accept the gift and allow it to transform us.
There wasn't any mention of wounds...
Perhaps this isn't going to be so easy.
This afternoon, I was catching up on some work on the computer when, for no discernible reason, I lost my Internet connection. I tried resetting the wireless system and it still wouldn't connect.
While I was considering this dilemma, I thought, "Maybe I'll paint for a bit." Having a perfectly valid excuse to avoid my work, I allowed myself to be pulled once again by the allure of alcohol inks. (Far better than getting frustrated with technology, after all.)
I had this quote from Rumi in mind when I began dropping the ink but, as usual, the ink led me to an image I hadn't planned. But in this case, it led to something I really hadn't expected: an image of the wounded One - with the Light entering through His woundedness.
"What is this all about?" I wondered to myself, as I quickly got ready for an appointment. It seemed like something important but I had to leave any further reflection for later.
After the appointment, I was blessed with the opportunity to share Eucharist with a small group at my church. I came home and studied at the painting some more. Sensing that I was going to want to share it with you, I moved the image from paper to computer screen, with a little help from my camera.
And now, to make sense of these words and images...
Rumi, though not a Christian, seemed to intuit something very important about the nature of wounds. Whether physical or emotional, wounds are painful points of vulnerability. But they are also openings. The pain of our wounds opens us to seek healing from the Light, even when we are afraid or prefer to hide in darkness.
And we are a people of many wounds. It is not God who wounds us - but rather our movement away from Him. We are wounded, not only by our own sins and faults, but by the destruction left in the wake of all of human sin. I am damaged by someone who was damaged by someone before me and so on, until it seems that all we see around us is brokenness.
Any of us who have had even a little exposure to Christianity have most likely heard it said that Jesus suffered and died for our sins. And to many of us, this is rather puzzling. How does His suffering and death do anything for my sins?
If we have been raised with angry-God theology, the rationale was probably something like this: because people sinned, God was angry and we owe Him a debt; some sort of sacrifice has to be offered to appease His wrath and Jesus took our place. Jesus suffered and died instead of us and "paid" the debt for us.
If the debt has been paid, why are we still suffering so? Why is God still so angry?
The angry-God theology is not mine. I believe in a loving Creator who sees what a mess we are in. In the person of Jesus, He comes and unites Himself to us in every way except one. He does not sin.
But He allows Himself to be broken and wounded by our sin. He takes on our pain and suffering and feels it in a very real and human way.
Now, if the story stopped here, we might think that He was a very kindly God for doing this. Nice to have Him walking along with us in the dark while we suffered our plight...but we would still be left wondering what the point was.
But the story does not end here.
The resurrection of Jesus changes the picture entirely. Uniting Himself with us, making our wounds His wounds, He carries us through death to a new life. In this new life, there is no death because the power of sin has been destroyed. And the Resurrection is evidence that sin has lost its ultimate power - because its ultimate power was death.
He does much more than walk with us in the darkness. He is the Light.
He is the Light who enters our wounds and heals them. He is the Light we follow to find our way Home...
(If you would like to enlarge this image, click on it. As always, comments and contributions are most welcome and may be e-mailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)