About a week ago, I was sitting at work, writing a memo and minding my own business when an email from a friend popped up on my screen. It was entitled “Not for the Squeamish-My Left Foot”. He had recently had surgery on the bottom of his foot. I was anxious to help him out. So I opened his email to see what he needed. With minimal explanation, he had sent me a photo of the bottom of his foot unbandaged, the hole a 1/4 of an inch deep.
Recently, I have known several people who have recently been through surgery, minor and major. When I have visited each of them, one of the first things that have asked me is whether I want to see their wound. They are always anxious to take off the bandages and show me their incisions, wounds, open sores.
I am not squeamish. The request for me to look is so heartfelt and earnest, I always say yes. But having looked at a lot of blood and gore recently I have found myself wondering why? Why it is that my dear ones have been so anxious to share their wounds?
Could it be that when we are sick and injured, the thing we need most, more than tea or flowers or orange juice or chocolates is for someone to see our wound, to acknowledge and the suffering it has caused us? To see it without judgement or fear. Could it be that somehow, we are better able to knit ourselves back together when those we care about are able to see us in our broken and wounded state and love us the same as if we are whole. In the act of being seen (and loved) in all our brokenness, do we somehow find a magical permission to heal?
I have thought about this so much lately, as news from Mumbai amplifies for me how we all of us are a wounded and broken people. How so many have suffered from hate and ill will. These wounds are deep and real and as crippling, as the holes in my friend’s feet.
And so are the wounds we all carry in our hearts, the wounds caused by poverty, or abandonment, or unkind words. We carry these wounds but we keep them hidden. We allow them to fester. We suffer in silence.
Is it that we are afraid that those we love the most will look away? Are we afraid that when they are confronted with our brokenness that they will shrink from our exposure, that they will confirm for us our worst fears: that we indeed are not whole? Or is that we fear that they will judge us for having these wounds. Tell us how we could have avoided them? Confirm for us that we are somehow to blame? So we keep them in the dark, we keep them in stale air, we don’t let them properly heal?
And how often do we hide those soul and heart wounds even from ourselves? How often do I allow, do you, do any of us, really just look at our wounds without squeaming, judging or blaming? Can I, can you, can any of us just be tender enough to look upon our own woundedness and simply say, “Wow. I am sorry. That must really really hurt. Let me hug you. Do you want some orange juice?”
I wonder what the world would look like if we could all be brave, swallow our squeamishness and just look and see. And if we then could all be brave enough to let all our wounds be seen. I just wonder…