The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. Matthew 13 v 44-46
What do you most treasure? Perhaps a family heirloom, a childhood toy or blanket, a photograph of a special occasion. Of course, if we’re not talking about material things, then most of us would say we treasure our family and friends. Yet for all sorts of reasons, it is also true that many people do not treasure family and friends and in turn are not treasured by them but find relationships strained and complex, abusive and harmful and at times surface level and unsatisfying. There can sometimes be a dynamic in a relationship that is unequal and insecure.
I read a story recently about an 18 year boy, who grew up without a father and was full of doubt and aggression. The boy started at college and when he got there he was appointed a tutor who he had heard many things about and whose books he was familiar with. Anxious and shamed by the tutor’s confidence and ability, at their first meeting, the young man was very guarded and nervous until the tutor said “you work at the coffee shop don’t you, well, whenever we start our tutorials, I want you to tell me about your work that day.” And in a moment, the young man thought to himself “I can do that.” That’s what he did and over time he felt it levelled the playing field. . . . Just two men sitting in a room, talking about daily work. And his tutor eventually became a father figure for him.
As a counsellor, a minister and as a person, I have noticed over the years, that it is true for all humans that when you risk sharing what hurts the most, what you are most worried or ashamed about, in the presence of someone you deeply trust then transformation comes at a deep level. Father Richard Rohr says that when you share with someone “who will not invade you or abandon you, you can learn not to invade or abandon yourself.” How often in relationships at work, at school, even with family and friends, do we feel invaded and abandoned? These are powerful, emotive words – invaded and abandoned. At a deep, spiritual level within yourself, when you risk sharing what hurts the most in the presence of someone who will not invade you or abandon you, you can discover within yourself what Jesus called the pearl of great value [Matthew 13:46], your invincible preciousness in the midst of your fragility. This is our core, our God known and loved self.
We can start by naming these hurts and hidden parts to ourselves, in the centre of God’s trusted presence, in prayer.
When we can get in touch with this core of our humanity, we are also at the intersection of spirituality that gives us the courage to face the most broken and lost places within ourselves, believing we will not be invaded (hurt and abused) or abandoned (left unsupported and unmet) by God, our creator who accepts us as we are and sustains us in that brokenness. When we can connect with this acceptance from God in our vulnerability, by learning to be this way ourselves, we can pass it on to others. We can be someone in whose presence it’s safe to be vulnerable and to be open, and truly courageous and strong and powerful, as Jesus was strong and powerful, in the truest, deepest sense of the word – the wounded healer.
This Week’s Prayer and Music (listen and hear these words in a new way):