Healing is a word we bandy about with the best of intentions.
How many times have we heard it said that we need to heal, or that we need to be open to healing, or that what is needed now is healing?
All of that is fine and good, but we may wonder, after years of healing, and perhaps even after little or no results: is it even possible to heal?
What does it mean to heal?
We might turn to the icon of the Sacred Heart for help.
Here we have the familiar heart symbol, but there is a fountain of fire pluming from within the heart’s division, and the heart is encircled with lines of radiance, or sometimes wings. When we see it in its radiant glory, we may easily forget that the shine and radiance is that of a heart and spirit that has been to hell and back.
In image and imagination, every possible wound has been inflicted on the Sacred Heart. The Sacred Heart speaks to the scarred heart, pierced by a thousand swords, cut by a thousand pieces of glass, wrapped in rusty barbed wire and a crown of thorns — and sometimes, at first, we think that those scars are something to hide from the world, something to keep quiet, keep covered up.
The Sacred Heart speaks also the scared heart, afraid because we know we can be harmed, frightened of our worst dreams coming true, scared that the wounds we are asked to face cannot ever, really, be healed.
Experiencing the traumas to body and spirit that cut so deep, the ideas that bind us to a limited view of life and love, the habits that keep us from not just living life, but living life well, we are afraid that we will only ever be broken.
Fleeing from our pain, we will reach out for healing far away from the scars and brokenness, to cover it up, to be free of it. But to flee from our condition in this way is to flee from what makes us sensitive and alive, from what transcends and supports our own mortality.
To the Sacred Heart, those salves and remedies for which we reach are a mirage: the greatest healing power comes from within the very brokenness of our condition, just as a lily flower blossoms from out of the muck. To the Sacred Heart, what we call broken shards and scars are crown jewels that bedeck and bedazzle.
The Sacred Heart will not be covered up nor will it be silenced.
Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes, it shines through fear and a forest of scars and the clothing that we wear and the protections that we weave about ourselves.
None of these matter to Sacred Heart for it is made to shine. And so, it does.
It shines out in radiant splendor, saying:
My blessedness is in and among the broken, ever, and always.