A year and a half ago, I received what I heard Richard Rohr call “the sacred wound.” The great wound is not a wound that is merely fixed and walked away from. The sacred wound is the one that opens up your life to the world. When I look at the language and symbolism of the story of the crucifixion, I see the great wound. The great wound opens you open to not only your pain, but to the pain of the world. This wound forces you into relationship with the bigger reality of life.
Modern masculinity does not allow pain to be a great transformation for them. We are taught to suck it up and walk away. We are taught to never experience the horror of the reality around us. If there is anything that the crucifixion can teach us, it is to watch a man absorb the horror and violence of men. He didn’t run away from the pain. This is why men so desperately need to find the pain in their life, choose not to run away from it, and absorb it. Women have so much to teach men here. Like Jesus, so many of them have learned how to weep over the things that are truly painful. They seem to more easily absorb the pain.
When we look at the crucifixion story of Jesus, we see a desperate man. He, like the rest of us has the natural response of, asking God to remove the inevitable pain. He knows that this is not possible, so he presses on. He knows that the violence is coming, and when Peter cuts off the ear of a soldier, he doesn’t threat them with violence, instead he heals them and continues on to his execution (violence ends in learning to forgive, and blessing your enemies). Amidst his own lashings, Jesus knows that this journey cannot be handled alone, so he accepts the help of a man to help him carry his cross. On his cross, he continues to receive the violence of men. We see a dying man, forgive people for an unforgivable act (father forgive them for they know not what they do), we see him express the absence of God that he experiences (my god, my god, why have your forsaken me), and we see him offer hope to another man dying on the cross. All of this, to conquer death, and bring true hope to all of humanity.
This is what the sacred wound does. It connects us to the heart of Jesus. It forces us to accept the help and love of others. It teaches us to forgive our enemies. This wound gives solidarity to those who are suffering alongside us. Once we find our death, this wound allows us to be a well of hope, for not only ourselves to draw from, but for us to share with others. It is necessary to die. It is necessary to suffer. We must grieve. The hope and wisdom that we can draw from as Christians is that our suffering is not pointless, it has a purpose. This is the reality of the Apostle Paul’s words, “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” We are grounded in the fact that wounds transform us. They provide a greater hope, and a greater healing for all of mankind.