Monday, November 10, 2014

"i am a good child - healing moral injury…"

"I am a good child,
born of God's grace,
whatever would try to claim
deliver me, Almighty One…"

Today, I discovered this post, "Beyond PTSD to Moral Injury," on Krista Tippet's On Being site, and it "had me at hello."

I love the word "moral." Especially since discovering Mary Baker Eddy's definition in her textbook for healing,  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:

"Moral. Humanity, honesty, affection, compassion.
hope, faith, meekness, temperance."

Immediately I wanted to call Krista on the phone and say, "No. No, no, no - hope can't be injured. You cannot wound compassion." I wanted to send her a link to Michelle Armstrong's beautiful song,"Unfallen." A song that speaks so gently to the heart of both the wounded -- and the wounder.

Eddy's definition of "Moral," has helped me in so many ways. It continues to bring me to my knees in gratitude.  Realizing that no matter how deep the wounds, nothing can deprive me of my right to act with moral courage -- right now -- has been an untold gift of grace. No matter what I may have done to another -- or what may have been done to me -- I cannot be kept from acting with compassion, meekness, hope and faith -- today.

A few years ago I wrote a piece titled, "An active Moral Imagination." Writing the piece was very healing for me. It provided a space for revisiting memories that had always brought me sadness. It gave me a lens through which I could reclaim the word "moral," as a vital part of my daily ministry.

To be moral, is to be dynamically hopeful. To be moral, is to be actively humane, to have a living faith [trust], to be temperate, meek, honest, affectionate.

To be "moral," was not about what I was not doing -- lying, cheating, lusting, abusing substances, being vengeful.  To be moral is to be engaged in doing something that serves God, and blesses others. And nothing on earth can injure or violate my ability to do that.

In fact, if I were lying in a bed, unable to move a muscle or even speak a word, I could still express compassion in my prayers for others. I could still think with affection, I could still bless my neighbor by holding out hope for the future of our planet, I could still be temperate in my thoughts, consciously meek.

Reading the above article, "Beyond PTSD to Moral Injury," I was flooded with so many opportunities to actually engage my moral compass -- to be moral. As I read each comment at the end of the article, I was absolutely filled with compassion, overflowing with faith, eager to reach out to others with an honest response about my own healing of "moral injury."

The world will tell you that those who have been abused, violated, or exposed to severe trauma are broken. Broken in a way that is almost impossible to heal without scarring. The deeper and longer the wounding, the harder to heal. The bullied, become the bullies. The hurt, hurts others. The abused, turn into abusers. But I am here to tell you that is just not true.

Every abused, bullied, traumatized, wounded, or angry man, woman, and child hopes that they will find freedom from the guilt, and shame, and terror associated with the injury. And the presence of that hope is the power of moral courage asserting itself. You can't just get a little bit of hope. If it's there, it represents just the tip of the iceberg -- and it, hope, is always there. To quote Emily Dickinson:

"Hope is the thing with feathers,
that perches in the soul,
and sings the tune without the words,
and never stops, at all..."

Resilient hope, persistent faith, unwavering compassion, relentless honesty...

I've seen the most wounded teen hope that she will someday be a loving mother. I've held a weeping soldier who's humanity won't let him forget that he was once a boy, who loved his brother. I've listened to the broken spirit of a convicted child molester, who wanted to help others from the confines of a state prison cell. I've watched while the most hardened among us, kneel to nurse an injured animal.

There is no moral injury -- perpetrated or felt -- that can't be healed. There is no shame so sharp and pointed that it can burrow it's way deeply enough to trespass on who we are at our spiritual core. There is no act of violence that can corrupt our essence. No regrettable choice that can undermine our right to be moral, right now -- to treat others humanely, to be honest, to show affection, to extend compassion, to be hopeful, to have faith, to be meek, to live with temperance.

And sometimes, that seeming broken-ness gives birth to a new light. From the depths of the shattering comes a new compassion, a deeper willingness to understand another's heartache, a gentling of pride, a fathomless humility.  A more profound desire to of care for animals, children, the broken-hearted among us.

No matter which side of the injury you (or a loved one) seem to be on -- the wounded, or the one who regrets having wounded others -- this line from Michelle's song is a prayer of hope:

"I am a good child…"

That's the truth for each of us. We're all just children. There are no "adults of God." And we all have a divine Parent who holds us tenderly, loves us unconditionally, and gives us an infinite number of ways to express our freedom from moral injury -- every moment, of every day. We never run of reasons to hope.

with so much affection....


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