“Make no mistake: There is no sorrow in the universe that can extinguish your persistent luminosity. Your only work is to listen carefully to where spirit lives in you, and go confidently in the direction of that certain grace. You are the light of the world. It is time to bring your love and courage to bear on the healing of the world. No one hurt you so badly that you cannot heal.”
This wonderful quote is from the forward of “Legacy of the Heart, The Spiritual Advantages of a Painful Childhood”, by Wayne Muller.
My wife and I were incredibly blessed to be able to attend interfaith seminary for two years, and even more blessed to have been taught our Buddhism curriculum by Lama Surya Das. He is a wonderful spirit, and brought much wisdom, light and humor to our classroom sessions. But more importantly to me, he mentioned this particular book in class. Since my childhood included years of constant abuse, “the spiritual advantage of a painful childhood” made this a must-read.
It is an extraordinary book, and led to some deep healing on my part. Reading this book soon led to other books, both during and after seminary, as well as exercises in acknowledging my past and sharing those experiences with others. Two of the most moving exercises were writing letters to myself as a 13-year old (and then replying as my inner 13-year old self), as well as sharing attunement with my younger self.
My most important lesson was that burying my past was not the same as healing my past. I recently heard a definition of forgiveness that I liked: Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been different. As I did this work, I began to understand some of the incredible gifts that came out of a painful childhood, and I was truly able to begin to let go of “a past that could have been different.” It has been liberating.
“No one hurt you so badly that you cannot heal.” I can only echo Mr. Muller’s observation with my own experience. If you have a past that haunts you, consider addressing it openly, sharing it with others, and uplifting it into the light. Yes, YOU ARE the light of the world. It is time for all of us to pull out of the shadows!
Reverend David G. Hunt