HOUSE NEWS: Welcoming our new live-in members

We were thrilled tonight to have over 20 people join us in a prayer service marking the beginning of a new semester. During the prayer service, we reflected together on the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet from John’s gospel, sharing insights about what the Gainesville Catholic Worker is all about, and then welcoming our new live-in house members–Tamra, Vickie and Daniel. After our gospel reading and reflection, we had each one of them introduce themselves and share with us one gift/talent/skill that they bring to our common work. They’re an incredible group of young people and we’re really blessed to have them living at the house this semester. We hope each of you who regularly make the GCW part of your life will get to meet them and know them over the coming months.

After Vickie, Daniel and Tamra shared their gifts, those gathered offered them a few insights and blessings for the next semester. During the commissioning ritual, we read aloud this passage from Henri Nouwen, in his book, The Wounded Healer:

In the middle of our convulsive world, men and women raise their voices time and again to announce with incredible boldness that we are waiting for a Liberator. We are waiting, they announce, for a Messiah who will free us from hatred and oppression, from racism and war—a Messiah who will let peace and justice take their rightful place.

If ministry is meant to hold the promise of this Messiah, then whatever we can learn of His coming will give us a deeper understanding of what is called for in ministry today.

How does the Liberator come? I found an old legend in the Talmud which may suggest to us the beginning of an answer:

Rabbi Joshua ben Levi came upon Elijah the prophet while he was standing at the entrance of Rabbi Simeron ben Yohai’s cave. He asked Elijah: “When will the Messiah come?” Elijah replied, “Go and ask him yourself.” “Where is he?” the rabbi asked. “Sitting at the gates of the city,” answered Elijah. “And how shall I know him?” asked Rabbi Joshua. “He is sitting among the poor covered with wounds. The others unbind their wounds at the same time and then bind them up again. But he unbinds one at a time and binds it up again, saying to himself, ‘Perhaps I shall be needed: if so I must always be ready so as not to delay for a moment.’”

The Messiah, the story tells us, is sitting among the poor, binding his wounds one at a time, waiting for the moment when he will be needed. So it is too with the minister. Since it is our task to make visible the first vestiges of liberation for others, we must bind our own wounds carefully, in anticipation of the moment when we will be needed. We are called to be wounded healers, the ones who must look after their own wounds but at the same time be prepared to heal the wounds of others.

All of us come to the GCW wounded, broken in some way. But we are not alone in this; it is our woundedness that connects all of us. Our woundedness can either close us in more deeply upon ourselves, or it can open us up, help us to identify with and empathize with our brothers and sisters, especially those who must carry their wounds around for all to see.

Thanks to everyone who came out for tonight’s service and dinner!

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Posted on 08/25/2011, in HOUSE NEWS, REFLECTIONS and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’ve written a book around the Wounded Healer and Healing This Wounded Earth, inspired by Henry Nouwen’s book of same name – thought you may be interested? From the Foreword: Our apparent weaknesses may be in turn a source of strength, if only we can change the way we look at our relationships with one another. The wounded make the best healers …….in life.
    The reality is that we are all vulnerable, and what differentiates us is only the degree to which we are aware of it. The price of unawareness can be high: we can wreak havoc through the need to avenge our wounds on the world we share – a world whose strengths and beauties are also inextricably bound up with its vulnerability… (see http://www.eleanorstoneham.com for info
    Blessings for the new semesterx

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