Healing is an Act of Darkness

I read a line in a John Updike poem years ago that has become an epiphany for me today about the journey into healing.  The line was simple and succinct: “healing is an act of darkness.”  That line illuminated the darker recesses of my heart because I am at a point in my life where I feel like I’m in a rut, stuck in a darkened room and left to my own devices to find my way.  But I know I am not alone.

Healing is an act of darkness but it is also an an act that occurs in darkness.  Healing can be likened to groping in the shadows for the light switch.

The journey of healing resembles the journey towards one’s calling as well for they both need darkness to gestate and be birthed into being by God’s tender mercies.  Sometimes we stumble into our healing as much as we do our callings – like stubbing our toes in the darkness of God’s mysteries.

But healing is also an act of Beauty…

The Navajo people of the Southwest have a word for “healing” which means “a return to beauty.”  How wonderful!  Rather than see healing as something done to us or as only the process of curing and fixing, healing becomes a sort of homecoming.  Healing becomes a returning, if you will, to the Original Beauty: God.  Healing as a returning to beauty is the journey of embracing the wisdom that become our healing and wholeness: we must rediscover, cherish, and honor the beauty of God, of ourselves, of each other and the world around us.

I have learned in my own healing journey that to pause and absorb all the beauty (and darkness) that surrounds me leads me deeper into God, deeper into oneness and connection.  For beauty reminds us of what is whole and God, not what is fractured and broken.  Beauty is one of the essential truths of God; it is in truth one of the foundations of God.  As it has been written before, the very desire for beauty is the desire for God.

Day by day I am learning what healing is and is not; healing is not perfection but progress and gratitude and humility.  Healing is deepening my life in God.  And the older I get, the more the Navajo wisdom of healing affirms the notions I have about our spiritual journeys: namely that this journey is not about finding something or someone, but rather it is about unfolding – unfolding into God and into the people God is calling us to be. 

We are like the roses of God.  Roses already are the beauty of their luscious blooms even when they are seedlings or when they are empty, thorny stems in winter.  And so it is for us, for we are the beauty of God as much in our darkness, emptiness, and pain as we are in our wholeness, peace and joy.

Maybe this is only my small “t” truth; maybe I just need to believe…to know that every struggle, every painful moment, every joyful blink, every wondrous second I am alive and engaged in is meaningful and sacred.  Maybe I just need to know that all moments are the moment when God and I are one, and intimacy is no longer about space or location but about truth, love and wonder.

I have evidence of the healing journey as an act of darkness, beauty and unfolding.  I see so many people around me unfolding before my eyes, unfolding into the wondrous children of God – that alone fills me with faith, gratitude and amazement.  I see the paradox of healing in my life: what feels like the fabric of my life unraveling is also the bloom of it unfolding by God’s grace.

I fumble in this holy darkness, groping for the Spirit as much as for some semblance of the familiar.  But still, I hold to the hope that, thanks be to God, all is not lost: pain and confusion will not last forever and brokenness will not have the last word.

Yes, I still hold to the hope that Divine Love will indeed prevail and embrace all.


“The Depths” (N. Gordon Cosby)

If men and women today began by the thousands experiencing the depths of Jesus…in a transforming way, there would simply be no place for their expression of experience to fit into present-day straitjackets of Christianity.

Protestant or Catholic, neither one is structured to contain a mass of devoted people who long for spiritual depth.

We are structured towards infancy.

N. Gordon Cosby

N. Gordon Cosby

On a sad and glorious note: the Rev. Gordon Cosby, a prophetic voice for church renewal and one of the co-founding ministers of The Church of the Saviour in 1947, died on Wednesday, March 20, at the age of 95.  Gordon was a spiritual father and mentor to me and to thousands of other seekers, people like me who hungered to taste of God’s radical love in action.  After hearing a sermon of his almost 25 years ago, the Spirit moved me and I sold all my possessions, packed my bags and left suburban Philadelphia to live in and work with Samaritan Inns – one of the many Missions that God created through The Church of the Saviour. A public memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 6, at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, DC. A Story on Gordon Cosby.

“Thank God for your life and witness and now you are free at last and Home with your God, my brother…”