Religious and spiritual traditions teach that we have to descend into the darkness to reach the light, that getting to a heaven calls for us realizing we're in a hell. A favorite hymn of many of us says that when facing our wretchedness, God's amazing grace arrives to save us. Though lost, we are found. Though blind, we learn to see. We men are all wounded, particularly those of us who refuse to admit we are. We struggle within with things invisible to others – and often to ourselves. We need to be kind to one another, less judgmental. We need to share our stories, share what we've learned. The past is present. We are often haunted and sometimes tormented by the ghosts of experiences too painful to fully recall. What we deny or ignore, what we are afraid to befriend within us and share, shows up again and again in our troubled relationships and self-defeating behaviors. An old bumper sticker of mine read: "What we run from runs our lives; what we face frees us to live." I have come to know that everything we have experienced – good or bad – is an opportunity for soul-making, is an opportunity to learn more about our humanity and become more deeply connected to one another. Recalling painful experiences can
become a blessing, a revelation of the suffering we human beings share. We may be able to become what psychologist C.G. Jung (1963) and Henri Nouven (1979) called "the wounded healer." We can learn to tend to our wounds with one hand so the other is free to heal the wounds of others. We can come to know and perhaps embody the joy found in living the life of compassion, a compassion writes Wayne Miller (1992) we offer to others in mutual recognition of our shared suffering. WGW Fred Richards-Daishi, Ph.D., is a psychotherapist, personal and professional coach, author, artist, published poet, recipient of the Counselor of the Year Award (1999) from the Licensed Professional Counselor Association of Georgia and the Club Herald (since 1978) of the Carrollton Kiwanis Club. He lives in Carrollton with his wife, Dr. Anne C. Richards, Professor Emerita, University of West Georgia.
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