Marsh Hudson-Knapp | How a hole in the soul became a gift

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When I grew up I saw myself as an only child. People asked me if I felt lonely. I said I felt independent. Little did I realize the other side to this. When I was thirty I went on a healing retreat. During a meditation I met my brother, Robert, who had died from measles before I was born. When the meditation ended I began crying - for three days! I never realized how much I missed my brother until then, but the grief surfaced and made me aware of a deep, empty place. That experience did two things.

First, it sent me in search of deep relationships. I really longed for a brother and church filled that need. Sometimes religious groups engage in what seems to be very unhealthy behaviors - judging, pressuring, fighting. Other faith communities are places of openness, acceptance, support and love. If our faith communities really work at welcoming, listening, and opening in vulnerability, healing and life energy are released.

When my wife Cindy and I retired to Bennington, we planned to visit different churches to find a community to be like a keel for our boat of life. We found it immediately at Second Congregational Church. We have discovered it in many faith communities in Bennington, including the Interfaith Council. That hole in my soul from the loss of my brother, has filled with relationships in faith communities.

That loss along with other painful experiences gave me a second gift: a soft-spot. Over the years I have learned to thank God (Life, or whatever you might call this mysterious force in the midst of our lives) for the vulnerable places in me. They awaken me to others' pain. They nudge me to stop judging and to reach out to know people better. When I really listen to other people I meet or I think about folks who are suffering, like the families along our southern border, something deep inside me feels their pain and senses our oneness. Honoring these soft-spots, opening to them, is a gift.

My losses, through the grace of God/Life, have become real blessings. This is the promise of the Bible. Paul wrote about it when he was in prison (Romans chapter 8). "God works together with those who love Him and who are seeking God's ways, to make something good out of everything that happens."

You can see this in the life of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, but God/the Life Force worked with Joseph until he became prime minister of Egypt and saved thousands of people in the time of famine.

Perhaps you have a hole of your soul from disappointments and losses. The Power of Life is ready to work in you to transform those hurts into energy to reach out to a faith community and sensitivity to other hurting people that can make the world a much better place thanks to you!

Marsh Hudson-Knapp is a member of Second Congregational Church and the Greater Bennington Interfaith Council

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