The Doorway Into a Wound
The doorway into the silent land is a wound. Silence lays bare this wound. We do not journey far along the spiritual path before we get some sense of the wound of the human condition, and this is precisely why not a few abandon a contemplative practice like meditation as soon as it begins to expose this wound; they move on instead to some spiritual entertainment that will maintain distraction. Perhaps this is why the weak and wounded, who know very well the vulnerability of the human condition, often have an aptitude for discovering silence and can sense the wholeness and healing that ground this wound.
There is something seductive about the contemplative path. “I am going to seduce her and lead her into the desert and speak to her heart” (Hosea 2:14), says Yahweh to Israel. It is tempting to think it is a superior path. More often, however, the seduction is to think we can use our practice of contemplation as a way to avoid facing our woundedness: if we can just go deeply enough into contemplation, we won’t struggle any longer. It is common enough to find people taking a cosmetic view of contemplation, and then, after considerable time and dedication to contemplative practice, discover that they still have the same old warts and struggles they hoped contemplation would remove or hide. They think that somewhere they must have gone wrong.
Certainly there is deep conversion, healing, and unspeakable wholeness to be discovered along the contemplative path. The paradox, however, is that this healing is revealed when we discover that our wound and the wound of God are one wound.
– Martin Laird, in Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Practice of Contemplation
Life is fits and starts, mostly fits.
– Walker Percy, in The Thanatos Syndrome: A Novel
Thank you Glen. I have started to read this book by Martin. It is thick and slow for me these days . Two things encourage me from this “quote”. First, your own wondering, if any others “buckle under discouragement in the contemplative journey”…yes and amen to that, especially as I continually let go of all the ways I learned to be religious before….and yet also learn NOT to be religious in this new way, as I consider how religion can become one of my ways of “controlling God”
and Second, a remembrance that I have in my minds eye of an image I had once, of Christ sitting on the hillside over Jerusalem. He weeps with the knowledge of what is to be, what he can’t change, or chooses not to change…I’m sitting beside him, and looking at my own life…the brokenness, the hate, the inner wars and destruction….and I weep too. I’m not sure if this is fully connected to the idea that my wounds and the wounds of God are one… I’m not sure I can grasp that yet, but there is something beautiful and connected in our sorrow over it all….