Mud and Healing

Healing is a tricky thing. It's easy to think you understand wounds and pain from the outside looking in. But when you're in it, something happens. You don't know which way is up. You have no idea where you are or where you're going. It's all you can do to get out of bed each morning.


There's this story, this hope, that healing descends upon us in a great beam of light, and we're forever changed. It's been my experience, though, that you never really know healing when it happens. It's almost as if you only ever understand it in hindsight. You just keep waking up, and showing up to life, and one day you look back and realize you don't hurt anymore (or at least not in the same way) and you can't remember exactly when it happened.


I have a tattoo on the back of my left arm. It's a feather that reads, "Siloam means Sent." This tattoo is a monument to my healing. A reminder to me about the process of healing (and boy is it a process). There were no bright beams of light. No miraculous, instantaneous enlightenment.


What there was was a lot of love. A lot of back and forth. A lot of indecision, a lot of bad decisions, and even some good ones. There was a lot of wading through the mud. And there were a lot of people willing to show me what healing looks like, what love looks like. People willing to sit with me. People willing to cry with me. But healing is a strangely solitary process. Those people didn't heal me. They showed me the way to healing, but I had to walk to the water with my face covered in mud on my own.


In John chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind. The story goes that Jesus and the disciples come upon a man who's been blind since birth. After some theological quarreling by the disciples, Jesus basically says shut up, you're looking at the wrong thing. The man wasn't born blind because of the wrong doing of his parents or himself. He was born blind so God would be glorified when he was healed.


When we're in pain, how often do we look for something/someone to blame? Jesus is basically saying how we got hurt or wounded isn't nearly half as important as where it will take us. There is an aspect of transcendence in every wound. There is a magical power to change our lives and inspire others towards their own hope and healing. 


But the process rarely feels so righteous. The story continues with Jesus spitting in the dirt and putting mud in the blind man's eyes.  And then Jesus told him to go "To the pool of Siloam and wash." Like, what the fuck. Spit? Mud literally in this man's face? And how the hell do you expect a blind man, who's now filthy, to get to this pool? He's blind! But somehow the man does it. He travels who knows how far covered with mud, eyes stinging, and makes it to the pool of Siloam. He washes his face (and probably his whole body) and guess what! He comes back seeing. He makes his way back to his family completely changed.


There is so much here that is analogous to our own healing. It doesn't say how long the road was, or how much time it took. All it really guarantees is that it will be messy, muddy. And after that it just says if you keep going (even when you may have no idea where you're going), you'll eventually get there.  


So, wherever you're at, no matter how messy and how muddy, just keep going. One day you will look back and realize you already made it home.