Healing Sacred Wounds & Embracing the Contemplative
Father Richard Rohr authored the foreword for Teresa Pasquale‘s new book, Sacred Wounds: A Path to Healing from Spiritual Trauma released today by Chalice Press. Chalice has made the foreword available and we thought this would be great to share in the post-modern church conversation / movement. We at Emerging Voices have been huge fans of Teresa’s healing work for a couple of years and are excited to see this work become widely available and accessible.
Foreword by Father Richard Rohr
Spirituality. Trauma. Openness. These three are so rarely taught together, and so desperately needed. In Sacred Wounds, Teresa Pasquale is giving us a gift to weave these together in a three-stranded chord that is not so easily broken.
As a therapist, priest, and contemplative teacher, Teresa Pasquale is vitally in touch with the power of paradox: the downsides of spirituality, the up-sides of trauma, and the beauty and pain that comes from a life of openness in heart, body, and mind. Her work reminds me of my life’s vocation as a Franciscan working to reflect some small measure of healing to ourselves and our world.
To keep the heart space open, we almost all need some healing in regard to our accumulated hurts from the past. It also helps to be in nourishing relationship with people, so that others can love us and touch us at deeper levels, and so we can touch them. In addition, I think the heart space is opened by “right-brain” activities such as music, art, dance, nature, fasting, poetry, games, life-affirming sexuality, and, of course, the art of relationship itself. And to be fully honest, I think our hearts need to be broken—and broken open— at least once in our lives to have a heart for others…or even to have a heart at all.
To keep our bodies less defended…to live in our body right now…to be present to others in a cellular way: This is the work of healing of past hurts, many of which seem to be stored in the body itself as memory. It is very telling that Jesus often physically touched people when he healed them; he knew where the memory and hurt were lodged, and it was in the body itself. Eckhart Tolle rightly speaks of most people carrying a “pain body.” Sometimes I fear that most of humanity has suffered from some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which reverberates painfully in our legacy of war, torture, abandonment, and abuse.
To keep the mind space open, we need some form of contemplative practice, or what those in more Eastern paths call meditation. This has been the most neglected in recent centuries in our Western paths, substituting the letting-go release of genuine contemplation for the mere “saying” of prayers, rote recitation that is a poor substitute for the contemplative mind, often merely confirming us in our fear- based systems.
One could say that authentic spirituality is invariably a matter of emptying the mind, filling the heart, and engaging the body in one fluid daily practice. It’s only befitting a faith that proclaims God inhabiting human flesh, renewing the mind and living from the heart, having a first-person encounter with God and humanity, refusing to settle for second-hand religion.
When Jesus speaks of “the narrow path that leads to life,” we want to make it into a dogmatic point about the afterlife. In my experience, it’s more of an existential observation of this life: wise teachers and reliable paths are so hard to find. In Sacred Wounds and in Teresa, you have both. Reflecting on her personal trauma and the psychiatric field with tenderness and pastoral concern, Teresa demystifies the mystics, invites us to join in the lineage of contemplative action in the Christian tradition, while finding ways to express hope and healing in our hurt places.
Hurt people hurt people, I’ve frequently observed. Sacred Wounds shows us how to honor our hurts so that we become healing people healing people.
Copyright ©2015 by Teresa Pasquale Published by Chalice Press