“Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” -Buddha
Healing is best accomplished when we think of it as a journey and not a destination. My son, who has become more and more lucid with time, is overcome with the enormity of the accident he suffered. The fear associated with the trauma is too big for him to hold onto and threatens to swallow him whole. These are normal reactions to facing life and death consequences.
In some ways the physical traumas we sustain are fleeting compared to the emotional baggage that is associated an experience that is never really processed. We mistakenly believe that we are just healing the physical body, which in many cases is no small thing. However, we often don’t realize that the emotional and mental strain and suffering associated with the illness or accidents have a life of their own.
It is not unusual for us to never really process the fear and grief that lives in us as a result of the physical injuries or illnesses we sustain. Tonight I realized that this part may well be the longest and most challenging part of my son’s healing journey. He would not be alone in this. Healing is a form of forgiveness but not a form of forgetting. We don’t ever forget life-changing trauma and illness; we heal them over time by witnessing and accepting the emotions the event generates. In this way, we transform our memories of suffering into something hopeful and maybe even transformative.
We are just beginning this journey, still not out of the trees to see where there might be a destination ahead. Every moment is still an opportunity that demands a choice between fear and love. I watch my son so bravely trying to wade back to love and to pull himself out of the current of fear that holds onto his heels.
Hippocrates wrote, “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” Seeing the opportunity in the journey comes through our hearts. Finding the courage to re-live our experience with compassion is the real journey. You can only take it a single step at a time. Looking forward to its end only distracts and makes you lose your footing. In the healing journey there is only right here, right now.