Vulnerability part 2 - spiritual openness

Further fruits of the talks during our retreat, personal reflection, reading, etc...

When spiritual writers talk about this “vulnerability” it does not mean becoming “soft”. It is a bi-product of the unconditional love that fills us if we open ourselves truly to God. This is our vocation, union with God through his Son: a union that is founded on love, that is active and energising and that sends us out as missionaries for that love. That is the incarnation: making Christ present today for those we meet. That vocation of union with God will then find an expression in a human vocation (to marriage, religious life, celibacy, the priesthood...) according to who we are, to what our gifts are... And according to what our needs are, because in responding to God’s call we are also offered healing for ourselves. In some cases, though in one sense we are offered healing, he may also use our wounds as a source of healing for others.

In my own case, I feel that this is what God asked and continues to ask of me. My wounds (if I may speak in such terms) have been cleaned of their infection but have not been healed as such and may never be, for from my wounds comes a creativity, an empathy with others, an openness to others, an ability to be drawn to others that I am sure I would otherwise not have. This is and always will be my double-edged sword that was pointed out to me by my Novice-Master 15 years ago. Since then I have been learning how to stand on my own 2 feet and keep bearing my wounds to the elements... and when I get knocked down, I get back up with God’s help (like Christ in the flagellation scene of Gibson's "Passion" film). To not get back up, to crawl into a ball and hide would be to deny my very essence, to deny my vocation, to deny my own personal happiness and thus to deny me the joy of giving and receiving love in a truly open and life-giving way.

For me to develop a "thicker skin", as some people would call it, would be to deny this essence. There is perhaps a way for me to grow stronger and build up defences that are healthy... and that is to carry on as I am, getting back up each time I am knocked down, for I get back up a stronger person, more aware of the traps that lie in wait, more able to read the signs... but I will be knocked down again, of that I am sure. I rejoice in that fact, because every time I fall under the weight of the cross, a 1000 angels are at my side to tend to me. And Jesus is there with his arm around my shoulders. Together we the lift the cross back up. I see his eyes and all the love he has for me. Through his and my wounds I receive so much, a million times more than I could ever imagine, simply because I have recognised that my ultimate happiness lies in him.

We can only be one with God and one with others (ie. be totally other-centred and not self-centred) if we are totally open, if we have the courage to stand up before God and the world and show them who we truly are. With this comes vulnerability. We must go on loving and not turn away from those who would hurt us. That may indeed mean standing up to them at times, if that be the best way to get through to them.

We have to allow ourselves to be who we truly are at the deepest level and allow God into a relationship with us at that deepest level, but also allowing other people to see us as we really are. In so doing, they will see God, because we will have allowed him to transform us into his likeness (through his Son).

This is not easy, but if we have this openness as our goal, even if we don't achieve it, God will transform our efforts and from them will flow grace and light for all to see.

Love + Peace.
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