A significant aspect of “the wildman journey” is learning to access, process and verbalize our inner pain. We have not had mentors to help us recognize and give language to our inner pain. As a result we live in denial of the pain, while being defensive and alone with our “inner grieving.” In this post I would like to share an insight from Henri Nouwen, which I think can be helpful for us as wildmen. As many of you know, Henri Nouwen was a wonderful spiritual director, who helped may to get in touch with the dynamics of their inner life.
In his book “The inner voice of love” he talks of having “to live through your pain gradually and thus deprive it of its power over you.” He maintains that our pain is the experience of not receiving what we most want. It is an inner place of emptiness where we feel the absence of love. To go to this place is hard because we feel a sense of powerlessness, like that of a child, which of course we are. The great insight for me and I hope for you as a wildman is this: “You have to begin to trust that your experience of emptiness is not the final experience, that beyond it is a place where you are held in love.”
The place of being held in love, of course, is our true self in Christ. This is beyond that place of emptiness. “The more roots you have in the new place, the more capable you are of mourning the loss of the old place and letting go of the pain that lies there.” As I visualize this for myself, I imagine, as Paul tells me, that my “roots grow down into him,” (Col. 2:7). Trusting this truth for myself I am able to enter into the place of inner pain. This becomes an inner journey of entering the old place, with grace to process the pain, and then moving on to the new place in Christ. Men, don’t try to figure this journey out in your mind. Just trust that beyond your pain is peace and rest, as you held in love.
Nouwen advices, “You have to weep over your lost pains so that they can gradually leave you and you become free to live fully in the new place….” Men, visualize that new place as a place where you are “being held in love.” We are reassured with these words, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those spirits are crushed.” (Ps 34:18) The message tells us, “If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there.” So be assured that God can heal the brokenhearted as we pass through the pain, found in the old, and embrace our new life in Christ. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps 147:3)