Healing Generational Wounds — Center for Action and Contemplation
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See the schedule and event session details for the final CONSPIRE conference (Sep. 24 – 26)

Healing Generational Wounds

Crisis Contemplation

Healing Generational Wounds
Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The wounds that we don’t know about or don’t remember are the deepest. It is through the wormhole of those wounds that we travel to arrive at the peace that surpasses all understanding. Healing is possible because we have the ability to spiritually veer from disaster, and to allow crises to make rather than break us. Ultimately, we can trust the leading of the Holy Spirit as it guides us toward mutual care and love of God, neighbors, and creation. —Barbara Holmes, Crisis Contemplation

All of us experience the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust, but we do not all experience this pain in the same way. Trauma researcher Joy DeGruy writes about the wounds caused by oppression that are passed down over generations, and says that the time has come to break the cycle of pain:

Throughout recorded history people have subjugated, enslaved, and at times even exterminated one another. Sometimes these acts were committed in the name of a king or queen, other times in the name of a tribe or country. Often they were committed in the name of God. Always they were done to consolidate and expand the power of a select few. Always, vast numbers of people died for no good reason. Always, even a greater number of people needlessly suffered to sate the appetites of that select group. These are crimes against humanity, and these crimes continue to be executed across our planet to this day.

Furthermore, these crimes are perpetrated in a seemingly never-ending cycle. The powerful oppress the less powerful, who in turn oppress those even less powerful than they. [RR: We see this often even within families!] These cycles of oppression leave scars on the victims and victors alike, scars that embed themselves in our collective psyches and are passed down through generations, robbing us of our humanity. . . .

The time has now come to . . . break the cycle, and once again claim our humanity. Breaking this cycle and claiming our humanity will require much work from all of us. Those who have been the victims of years, decades, and centuries of oppression first must heal from injuries received first-hand, as well as those passed down through the ages. Those who have been the perpetrators of these unspeakable crimes, and those who continue to benefit from those crimes, have to honestly confront their deeds and heal from the psychic wounds that come with being the cause and beneficiaries of such great pain and suffering. [1]

Whether we currently identify as a victim or a victor, we are all wounded. If we could see our wounds as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become sacred wounds, and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others. I’ve frequently said that if we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it, usually to those closest to us. The given is that we will have pain! Spirituality is about transforming both history and individuals so that we don’t just keep handing on this pain to the next generation, consciously or unconsciously. [2]

References:
[1] Joy DeGruy, Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing (Joy DeGruy Publications: 2017), iv.

[2] Richard Rohr, Just This (CAC Publishing: 2017), 76–77.

Story from Our Community:
As a theology student many years ago, I did my thesis on transformative transformation. Recently I revisited it and realized I only included points that confirmed what I already believed and made me feel good and “inspired.” The past 35 years have confronted and challenged my previously held assumptions; the Spirit reveals new truths and more ultimate meaning about myself and the workings of Christ in my life. With each day I find Spirit challenging me to shed biases that hold me back from experiencing and embracing all life presents with open eyes, ears, and heart. —Dennis K.

Image credit: Oliver, River Steps (detail), 2014, photograph, Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0.
Image inspiration: Water on stairs brings up questions that the angle of this photo cannot answer. Are these waters rising or receding? We are navigating in this place of tension, in the eye of the hurricane, unsure if where we stand will flood. Water and Stone: Where is safety? Where is danger?
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