"Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always."
~ 1 Chronicles 16:11
I have found myself drifting back to my days as a student at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston where I did my Clinical Pastoral Education training, predominately working in the Emergency Center and on the floor that treated persons head and neck cancers.
There was a patient, a young girl, that simply changed the way that I look at how to live through woundedness. Just in her teens, this young woman taught me to appreciate the things I could, and couldn't see. She had to have both of her eyes removed, due to a very aggressive tumor. As I walked in to her room two days after surgery, I expected to be met by silence, or perhaps questions of "why?" Instead, I heard laughter. Her laughter, and the laughter of her family, watching an episode of "Golden Girls."
"Chaplain Todd, you'll love this part. This is where Blanche tells this story. I laugh every time. Mom, she is wearing that purple outfit, like the flowers that used to grow on our fence."
Her mom agreed, sharing that the fabric "shimmered." It shimmered like her daughter's beautiful hair.
What I would have thought to have been a wound that would be impossible to heal, was instead, a way to reach deeper, to share more intentionally, and to color outside any lines that may have been established in the way their family loved.
When I think of this girl, I am drawn to a piece I wrote just over ten years ago, "The Wounded Person."
I had read the book, "The Wounded Healer," by Henri Nouwen. His words touched me, and to this day, remind me that in our woundedness, we can still care for one another.
The Wounded Person
Once there was a wound
that was unique, because it was mine.
I wore it on the inside
and I had lived with it for a long time.
I did not realize, but
I wanted to be free from this wound
but it's ache I could not stop.
If I were truthful, I'd say
that I had and appreciation for this wound.
The more I noticed this wound,
the more I became vulnerable to God.
Deep within me
something greater was being brought out.
The wound was apparent,
gave way to emerging faith,
daring me to reach deeper, and to
touch my wound, and to apply
slowly working it towards the light,
where others might see
and know my woundedness.
One day, without realizing,
I reached inside and touched that wound.
A grace that I couldn't see
flowed through me,
and began to fill the place where
my wound once lived.
"I'm afraid," I cried,
The wound had left me,
and my faith had turned to belief,
taking it's place.
I have not lost my appreciation
for the wound
that made it possible
for me to know the
mercy that I now hold.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.