Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How many times can a heart break?

When it comes to forgiveness, we are told to forgive 70 x 7. It's a number lost in translation.
But how many times will our hearts be broken? How many times can a heart bear breaking? Do I even need to put up one link? Do I need to append a bibliography of sadism, sexual abuse, misuse of power, cover-ups, denial, pretense of piety by predators? Castigate me if you will, but I simply cannot bear to do so! Already this blog has more than enough posts recounting my own prior efforts to understand, put into prose or verse, the suffering I've sought to heal, lift up, to bear, transcend.

My heart is breaking yet again. Yet again this stormy morning - for young men abused in Tanzania and in Britain and in Kansas (City) – where “somewhere over the rainbow” never came.

My heart is breaking because I cannot even mention these latest horrors (or the church) in my own home.  For I live in a household with elderly Mr. TheraP whose physical abuse by two priests in a small European village, over 60 years ago, leaves him still so emotionally raw, so troubled at each further revelation, he cannot hear more, strives to avoid.   It's the under-reporting, not just the reporting.  Self-censorship.  For how many times can a broken heart break?

My heart is breaking because of all the stories and the people I've tried to help over the years. Those abused by priests, by therapists, by parents, siblings, neighbors, school crossing-guards. Children turned into prostitutes or photo shoots by parents, by any predator who got ahold of them. Ferried around at night to God knows where for the child knew not. Ferried in trunks of cars. Left in corners awaiting the unknown. Mentally trying to escape into other selves, feeling themselves shrinking into nothingness, disappearing into walls or objects.

My heart is breaking because of adults preyed upon by clergy. By the fall-out for parishioners when they learn the trusted pastor has harmed someone – and it might have been them. When that means their child who needed guidance has been “guided” by a predator. When all harmed feel doubly harmed when a legal process seeks to lay bare the life and soul of anyone whose heart has already been broken too many times.

My heart is breaking at the failure of shepherds. The self-protection of partners in power, Ecclesiastical Bullies. At the failure of law enforcement, of legislatures, of nations torturing their own citizens.

Dear God, has it no end? T.S. Eliot said it better than I: “Where is the end of it, the soundless wailing...?”

My heart is breaking because these tortured souls' unbearable emotions end up exposing even their therapists to a kind of torture, a mental suffering, vicariously traumatizing even the strongest, most caring among us. Yes, we willingly undergo something like a crucifixion on their behalf. And the Love of God pours through our suffering hearts. Hopefully into theirs. Into their broken hearts devoid of trust. Even for those who suffer on their behalf.

Dear God, the ground of our beseeching is breaking beneath us. As we pray from a place of utter extremity.


Alan said...

I have been too long without your voice.

I am no longer actively Catholic for other reasons, having not encountered any of this during my years in parochial school and Jesuit high school.

And still, those who either actively concealed or passively shrugged at such things would presume to give us direction on proper moral living?

Yet we can not confine ourselves to believing this is only confined to one group. No, I think it's the power that does it. And much as I am reluctant to cite science fiction in such a context, Frank Herbert had it right in his "Dune" series when the Bene Gesserit sisterhood held as a maxim not only Acton's famous "power corrupts" but also their own corollary, which is that power itself serves as a magnet for the corruptible.

If you contact me privately, I have some good news for you.

TheraP said...

Alan!!!! :-)

It's wonderful to hear from you. I am no longer actively Catholic, though catholic in the sense of Orthodox.

I like your theory on how power serves as a magnet for the corruptible. I'm going to give that more thought. (And I'll check on the "good news" too.)

steve said...

What you have written is very true.

But how did the Lord respond to all of the transgressions committed against him both by disciples and adversaries alike?

He responded with infinite love and mercy. To commune with God today is to go and do likewise.

TheraP said...

Exactly right, Steve.

I have learned so much about God's love and mercy from this painful work. I've come to understand Divine patience, commitment, never-ending care, mercy, and love. I'm not in any way claiming something special here, because I well know that whatever lengths I could go were entirely due to God's love pouring through me. The suffering you reach with especially those who have been terribly abused and betrayed drives you to seeking the heart of Holy Mystery. It teaches you, through what you experience yourself, how much care and concern there is for each of us, how much patience, mercy. It's been quite an education! (I've written about some of that in other places on this blog.)

Thank you for your comment, which dovetails so much with my own experience.

Peace be with you.

Blue Eyed Ennis said...

Thank God for the grace and strength you have in your work with abused people and the infinite patience you have.

More horrific news every day does get to us all.
I don't know what the future holds for our church - at present it always seems to be on the rear foot and damage limitation is to be the order of the day. It's becoming dreary and very predictable.
Bless you and warm hugs come your way this weekend.

TheraP said...

Bless you as well, Phil! Hugs back! Yes, this has been, to my mind, an especially horrific week with regard to disturbing news on a variety of fronts.

I do thank God for whatever patience I have been given. And I pray to simply hang in there. I am now mostly "retired" - which gives me more time for all the woes of the world! Not sure if the trade-off is a good one, but there it is... I've always believed in what I term "pockets of goodness" in the universe, unsung people keeping the lights on in the darkness. And I truly believe the lights are on the winning side, especially in view of so much "dark matter" - which I assume to be the mysterious darkness out of which the Word continually springs, which fills all things with the Spirit of Life. And comforts us in our afflictions.

Your presence is comfort. I truly mean it. And I wanted to tell you that right above my computer screen is a plaque which says: "Bidden or not bidden ~ God is present". I think you will see a resemblance to a quote on your sidebar. A slightly different translation. I have a small calligraphy print in my bedroom: The Mystery of Christ is at work in everything, no matter how humble or humdrum.

I want to thank you for encouraging me to get cracking on some blogs!

Peace be with you.