Dear Auden, long ago you wrote a letter to your wound. I don’t know where on your body that wound was. I know that sometimes you lifted the dressing and looked at it. It changed over time, and it changed you. And in some perverse and holy way, counter to all sense, it transformed you. You saw the world differently because of it – people and creatures and things. You saw through the flippant and trite, and saw as never before the many ordinary sacred moments.
Inspired by you, I want to write about my wound. It is a very deep wound, sunk so low it was invisible, and I was deaf to its voice. Until…until I dared to peek under the layers of dressing that had muffled it, prompted by dreams through which it reached out to me. I sat on its shores, back turned to it out of fear – fear that was so primal I shrank away in horror. I stayed a whole while; then, oh so gradually turned to look at this wound. At first there was lots of pain: those sharp memories stabbing my heart when I was not seen, when somehow I was invisible. And I had to feel again the abandonment. As the incidents replayed, I wept, felt the pain and wept some more. I wasn’t angry, I was just hurting. Before, I had thought that if I let myself feel so much, to come out of the numbness, then there would be no return – just endless pain, a bottomless abyss. But I was wrong. I needed to dive in, swim around, and be transformed. And in some perverse and holy way that wound became the portal that let the light in. Redeeming light. And I saw the world differently: I could see all those who were unseen and over-looked, all those who were invisible and pushed to the edge. When I think about it a bit more, what it helped me see most were the birds and trees and animals and rocks and rivers. It was as if a dull film had been washed from my eyes. I saw; and the more I looked, the more I saw. I saw in the dark – saw the phases of the moon, time and again in her rotations; saw the stars as if for the first time. I saw the trees in the park – the crevassed bark of the oak, and I saw had to feel it – mumpy, bumpy, jaggedy. I saw the lime trees through their seasons of becoming and blossoming and filling the air with sweet perfume; and saw the ingenious helicopter blades spin and dizzy the seeds away. I saw the deer – and the deer saw me – and I knew that it was for me to incline my head to them in stillness and drop my gaze – and discovered that to give a short sniff outwards was to grab their attention – they looked back at me and we exchanged glances. And I smiled. And I could see, more than ever before, the antics of the squirrels – cheeky foragers and chancers, ace climbers and leapers through tree tops, one across another. And I could see the bracken grow through the months, unfurling like time-lapsed flags, whose lime-green tips are so soft on the back of your hand and whose fragrance was earthy and wholesome and childhood all rolled into one. And I saw, and I was seen. I am seen.
My dear Auden, there is yet another wound, recently marked. It is still being transformed. It is hard to accept, but I do accept it. It is becoming a sacred wound and my soul’s call – to wear the shirt of arrows* on my back and protect the eternal child I cradle, knowing that I too am protected and cradled. And I will stand with steely eye and icy glare to guard the child spirit. From shrinking knees and cowering glance, I rise and stand. This is my sacred wound.
*’shirt of arrows’: a phrase used about a person who has been wrongly reviled, harassed, assaulted physically or psychologically.