Tending Our Own Wounds First

Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters.

These words of Henri Nouwen are indeed helpful and profound. This insight is found in Nouwen great book, The Wounded Healer. Fr. Henri asserts that we are a people of discipleship and that our brokenness is a great springboard into ministry. The basic principal is that all persons are wounded in some way shape or form. Once we learn to address our own brokenness, often with the help of others as he notes above, we can become a great source of healing to others.

Today I was honoured to preach at a funeral liturgy for Gary Charlton at All Saints Church. Gary died peacefully on Sunday after a courageous and determined battle with cancer. All who knew Gary know how much he wanted to beat the cancer and how hard he fought to be well, and to be present with his family. It was not to be. But Gary did lick the woundedness. The Cancer did not define Gary. Hard as it tried, the cancer did not take away the personhood and essence of Gary. In fact it was quite the opposite. Gary managed in the midst of his fight against the illness, to find his swing. He got into a groove and he went with it. I believe that Gary became keenly aware of his own woundedness and he responded to that with love and compassion and hope. He took his own brokenness and offered love. He transformed his position of weakness into a place of strength and healing, as he with determination spoke the words of love he needed to speak to those around him.

I believe that Gary Charlton was in great solidarity with the suffering of his family and his friends who watched him struggle. I believe that Gary entered into deep solidarity with the many who have suffered in this world, some of whom Gary had known. I know that Gary cared deeply, loved passionately, and sought to make those around him better.

I was moved today by the words of love that I heard expressed at church by his brothers Gregg and Mark. I was moved by the love that was expressed by ‘The Pizza Gang,’ Gary’s friends from childhood who were there with him through everything. What was so evident to me today was how important Gary Charlton’s last days were. In those days he said all that needed to be said and in so doing he played the part of the Wounded Healer. I think that those who expressed their love today were able to do so because they had no doubt about where they stood with their friend and brother. In his woundedness he brought his family some healing. In his death, Gary has received ultimate healing in life everlasting. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know him and to be also offered a picture of healing in the midst of such brokenness. Well done, good and worthy servant.     

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