The Wounded Healer
The Wounded Healer is a classic book that talks about the role of the pastor as a wounded healer. Nitwit, who is both a minister and therapist, gives his thoughts on how Nouwen fits into his ideas about the wounded healers of the world.

I believe Father Nouwen to be correct when he advises in his introduction that in order to be relevant to the "fragmentation" of others, you must speak from your very own "fragmentation." Yet, in the standard psychotherapy world, we are cautioned not to be too revealing. In the professional schools, students must also be careful to maintain the secrecy of their own afflictions and their own healing process. Nevertheless, there are those healers who eventually stumble upon the idea of the relevance of their own sufferings as well as the relevance of their own joys and strengths. The whole idea of being a healing agent, either in spite or because of one's own vulnerabilities, weaknesses, frailties or sufferings, seems not to be a particularly new idea. In a certain sense, perhaps it seems like a timeless idea because it is a universal truth.

Moses and Isaiah
For instance, when Moses was ordained by God to lead the oppressed and enslaved people, he responded first by acknowledging his own inadequacy and suffering to God. In fact, Moses advised God that Aaron, who was by far a more eloquent speaker, would best serve the people's liberation. But it didn't stop there. Moses also appears as a very angry person who killed a representative of the oppressive class. Moses tried to hide his weakness from God, but instead of chastising Moses, God ordained Moses an agent of salvation or liberation. (Exodus 2:2;3:10.) Isaiah was also called by God, and Isaiah's response was, "I'm a man of unclean lips living in an unclean culture." (Isaiah 6:5.) The response of both Moses and Isaiah could just as easily have been, "I'm a person of great inner suffering and fragmentation. Go find someone who is whole for your work." One might ponder why God continued to bless these two with leadership. After all, in a certain sense, they were the weaker ones. Jesus seems also to be aware of his own fragility as he responded to someone who dared to describe Jesus as good. Jesus snarled at him, advising that only God is good. (Mark10:17-18.) And of course, Jesus' beatitude about humility is well known. "Blessed are the poor in spirit--blessed are the meek."

The Inner Way
Back to Father Nouwen, who writes that the way out of our fragmentation is to be found in the "mystical" or the "inner way." The inner way helps us transcend the very elusive vulnerability of self and society. Nouwen hints that if you find the inner way of transcendence, you develop a revolutionary relevance. Perhaps Jesus meant something of this when he advised that in a certain sense it would be helpful if one were to be reborn or born of spirit. (John3:6.)
But what is the way of spiritual or psychological transcendence? Nouwen has an answer for this. Become an "articulator of inner events." Nouwen hints that the "deep and significant movements of spirit" are really inner events of the psyche and therefore "unfamiliar" and even frightening to most ministers. Consequently, the church will fail in its "basic task," which is to offer "creative ways to communicate with the source of human life."

Then Nouwen writes that the key solution here is an "articulation" of inner life movements. This articulation allows you to be freed from your wounds by a slow and consistent removal of the inner obstacles preventing transcendence. Nouwen describes the process as a "deep human encounter in which one is willing to put one's own faith and doubt, one's own hope and despair, one's own light and darkness, at the disposal of others who want to find a way through their confusion and touch the solid core of life."

But, who to trust for this work? After all, the wounds may be painful, but at least they belong to the suffering person. The suffering person may have worked long and hard to be where he or she is, and the sufferer wishes to be careful in choosing who they allows to enter the sanctuary of their wounded inner life. In other words, the sufferer wishes to keep his or her own identity intact, and not simply come through the healing process with the result that they take someone else's identity. But the Healer is faced with quite a challenge in respecting the wounded person's identity and allowing it to remain intact, while at the same time helping the sufferer address the inner confusion obstructing their wary to the "solid core of life."

The Wounded Healer
Who possibly could possess that quality of sensitivity, knowledge and faith? Ta-dah--enter the Wounded Healer, whose vary own affliction provides the inspirational sensitivity, self-knowledge, and faith to heal the wounds of another.

The Wounded Healer's own wounds are profoundly important to the healing process. They provide an awareness of the pain, torment, and confusion underlying any affliction. How are the wounds addressed? In a voice of healing that communicates acceptance and encouragement that is much more than what it would appear the wounds might dictate. In other words, the voice of healing communicates transcendence. What is the source of such a voice? Is it inner or outer? Both! There is something in the outer voice, which touches and resonates with an eternal inner voice, which together lift the Wounded to a point of transcendence. The inner voice hears something in the outer voice communicating not only an understanding of the Wounded's painful confusion, but also a sense that this painful confusion need not restrict one from discovering inner freedom or harmonious joy, but can actually assist in understanding "the core of life."

How does this happen? It happens in a process conducted between the Wounded Healer and the Wounded. Perhaps we are all simultaneously Wounded and Healer, Afflicted and Helper, Tormentor and Savior. Once this is discovered, a revolutionary relevance evolves. The Savior is humble in recognition of his or her own ongoing wounds. The Healer is humble in recognition of the death of cultural fragmentation (Isaiah 6:5). As Nouwen writes, "Teaching in this context does not mean telling the old story over and over again, but the offering of channels through which people can discover themselves, clarify their own experiences, and find niches in which the word of God can then take hold."

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