There are few people who do not enjoy the view of a mountain, or feel a sense of awe from an ancient tree. Yet, what is it we are seeing? Wounds. The wounds of the earth as it was formed, one tectonic plate crashing violently into another, rupturing the surface. The wounds of time on the tree, harsh winters, limbs broken then healed over. A scientist might have come up with something better. Nurturing the tree in a laboratory without hardship, without character. God has done a better job.
We struggle with the idea of wounds. When my son was an infant we got together with some friends, praying for his eczema to be healed. He was not healed. My fault, or so I found out later. I never got to find out why, because it was never said to my face, which is probably what hurt the most. On another occasion a visiting speaker prayed for a friend of mine for her diabetes. She was not healed either. It was due to her lack of faith. Apparently. Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that the Kingdom of God is all about wholeness, the blind seeing and the lame walking. If that isn’t happening, then we have misunderstood the Kingdom, yet things are not always that simple.
Brennan Manning was a priest and an alcoholic. He woke up one morning from a drunken stupor, in a ditch, covered in his own vomit. It was at this low point that he realised that God loved him as he was, not as he should be. This sense of God’s love overwhelmed him and became his life’s message. Yet, in his autobiography he admits to never having being healed of his alcoholism, which continued to cause hurt to those around him. It was not the ending I wanted to read. I think too of a friend of mine who, many years ago, also died of alcoholism. He too was not healed. He too left behind him others who had been hurt.
We think that Jesus healed everyone, but, actually, he didn’t. He left Lazarus to die. For sure, he was resurrected a few days later, but, then, isn’t that our hope too?
In the Orthodox Church, they view the story of Adam and Eve differently than we do in the West. Adam and Eve are more like children, young and naive. They make mistakes. This may be disappointing, but it does not take us by surprise. It is part of growing up. Our job as parents is to help our children in that process, and this is close to how the Orthodox Church read this story. For sure, God did not want them to make that mistake, but he was not horrified, or even surprised, when they did. It was all part of their growing up, painful as it would be for them. Painful as it would be for him.
We all carry our wounds. Sometimes of our making, sometimes not. Our society would prefer those wounds would go away, or be hidden. Even in the church we do this. Yet, much of who I am was formed when I was a child, by broken parents in a broken home that leaves its scars. When I became a Christian a lot of things changed, but a lot of things did not. Even today, many of those wounds show. I will probably never be the life of the party. But, what I am learning, is that that it is OK. Not every wound, not every sickness is healed. Sometimes God says, this is one for you to learn to overcome in other ways. Like Jacob, we sometimes need to walk with a limp. But, perhaps, like with the mountains and the trees, it is what gives beauty to our lives.