Mike Armiger has written on Twitter very powerfully today about how our practice “can plunge us into a pool of vulnerability” and how his own vulnerability is shown often around grief and bereavement. Go onto Twitter and find his thread for 21.09.2018; I won’t jump on his bandwagon (much) here: Mike’s voice is more powerful than mine. His thread – or his own part of it, since it has touched a number of people as well as me – ends with these astounding words:

Embracing the vulnerability has been worth it. And the best part? It no longer scares me.

But it continues to scare me, I must admit. The vulnerabilities around bereavement especially, are, as the etymology shows, about the vulnera, the wounds, that are capable of being opened up when I think I have gone wrong in some way. The wound of my mum dying when I was 18; the wounds of loves botched (I’m thinking of the down-to-earth melancholy of Spender’s poem  I quote below, remembering loves and poems lost) or loves rejected; the wound of our son dying… They are as tangible as the knee I injured when I was nine that still has a scar, and still aches sometimes.  Such regrets and hurts are not smoothed away by time, nor, I think, do they make me, in some muscular way, a Better Person. What they do do – or can do, or maybe I am fortunate or blessed that they have done for me – is suggest to me that this very vulnerability makes us approachable for others.  The vulnera, the wounds, make us vulnerable, woundable, and can, maybe, create something of a unity with a person we encounter who is also hurting. It is more than simple memory, but something bigger, as Spender suggests:

Such pasts

Are not diminished distances, perspective

Vanishing points, but doors

Burst open suddenly by gusts

That seek to blow the heart out.

Stephen Spender, One More New Botched Beginning


One thought on “Hurt

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