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Center for Action and Contemplation

Woundedness and Change 

February 14th, 2024
Woundedness and Change 

By Jennifer Tompos 

This last fall, I sat in a home I had never been in, looking across the dinner table into the eyes of a man who looks just like me. It was like looking at a version of myself. Me staring at him, him staring back at me. Our eyes telling one another the wordless stories of missed decades.  

I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my biological father since I was a young child: three, to be exact. Numbers are easy to remember when they are that small.  

My life has been marked by his absence. 

Growing up, a suburban life—a golden retriever in the backyard and my subtle attempts to hide behind a different last name—masked the negative space that was him. In the quietness of my own heart, the effects of his absence were like strings on a puppet, continually yanking at the corners of my life.  

Across the dinner table that day, he looked at me and said, “I didn’t abandon you,” then paused as if reconsidering. “I never meant to abandon you.…” 

He spoke my wounding back to me, and it was as if time slowed down. I was acutely aware that I was bearing witness to one of my own canon events.  

Some changes occur subtly and gradually. Some changes are cataclysmic, like the culmination of decades of longing and slow work that crescendo in a sudden shift. My father’s words were ones I had danced around for years, loaded with meaning and fraught with history. They were words that I so desperately needed to hear and did not know how to receive. 

Sometimes change pushes you into unknown territory. One minute you are driving down a well-worn road you have traveled a million times before, but instead of being on autopilot you feel a sort of amnesia, an untethering, like you can no longer place yourself in the world. 

Suddenly, it is all new—or maybe you are new. 

I’ve spent my life resistant to this change, the change of healing. 

Do I even know who I am without this woundedness?  

In this season, change is inviting me to cease clinging to my woundedness and instead let my woundedness slowly bleed out. This is not a loss of self, but an invitation to bring the essence of myself to the table in a more integrated, more healed, more whole way. 

This is the journey. This is my practice. 

Jennifer Tompos is the CAC’s Living School Program Manager. She has a background in theological studies and spiritual formation and is an avid reader. Jennifer lives in Oregon with her husband and three young children

This reflection appears in the Winter 2024 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.

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