November in the Northeast of the United States colors gray. Though there are some bright days of sun and leftover reds and golds from a brilliant October, those aren’t as common as the more dull days that whisper of a winter coming and shout of a summer long gone.
And today colors grayer than gray. Though it began with a brilliant sun shining through our kitchen windows, the sun faded out of sight with thick clouds taking over.
The first question that came at me this morning was from an app that I have been using called “Soul Space.” This five minute meditation focused on “anchoring your thoughts to the love of God” is a beautiful way to ground me after my morning prayers. The question was one that quickly brought tears to my eyes.
“Ask your soul: Where does it hurt?”
Where does it hurt? Where are the painful spots in my soul today? The spots that others don’t see as I go about life. Through the meditation, listeners were invited to put their hands over their hearts and listen to where it hurt.
I felt like I was putting a stethoscope up to my soul to find the wounds and murmurs. I hadn’t realized how much my soul was hurting until I stopped to listen. Tears filled my eyes, and I brushed them away impatiently. But it was no use. They came again and I gave in to their therapeutic healing.
None of us can go through much of life before encountering soul wounds. We can keep busy and ignore them, but sometime they will catch up to us.
This pandemic season they have caught up with us. This time has revealed some deep soul wounds in many of us and we are feeling their weight. Loneliness, isolation, lack of community, division among friends and families, changes in friendships, marriage tensiton, online strife, not seeing family and friends for extended periods – all of this is taking its toll on our bodies and our souls. We are a hurting people who don’t know how to help.
A few years ago, a dear friend of mine sent me a poem. Since that time I’ve seen in quoted many times in many places, proof of it resonating across the world.
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
where does it hurt?
it answeredWarsan Shire
And though I love the poem, I don’t believe we are left hurting alone. I have come to know that there is a wound healer that comes beside us and enters our soul wounds, if we are willing.
And so I imagine God picking up that same atlas in an embrace of love, running his fingers across the whole world and whispering these words:
I heal the broken hearted, and bind up their wounds. I whisper hope into your soul wounds and give you joy. I take your burdens and make them lighter, invite you into a resting place. The atlas replied "But it hurts so much." "I know" he whispered back. "But let me bear it with you so you will not be alone," Ever so slowly the atlas responded to the embrace. It still hurt, but she was no longer alone. And so she rested.