Friday, August 6, 2010
New Church Perspective in Brian Smith, community, death, grief, healing

Brian Smith deals with pain left by the loss of a friend. He looks at how closely the loss of a person to a community resembles wounds to the body. Brian notices how the slow signs of healing on a community level indicate that the community itself is alive and has a structural integrity. -Editor

About seven weeks ago I fell while I was running in the forest. I broke open the skin on my knee in a long gash. The cut was impressively deep and spilling a good amount of blood. It was the type which a doctor would immediately decide needed stitches. I chose not to go through the hassle of a doctor partly because I like cool scars and also because I was confident that my body could heal on its own, even if it took a little longer. I like watching cuts heal.

Healing is the opposite of decay. Dead things decay. Alive things heal. Watching a thing repair itself is an inspiring reminder of the mystery of life. Why does the 155 pounds of material that I call my body hold together as a unit and repair itself rather than decay?

With the recent passing of my friend I have watched a fresh, deep cut in my community spill blood.

I have seen some initial attempts at bandages and stitches in the form of worship services and friends stopping work in order to be with each other. People have begun to clean and sterilize the wound with words, explanations, hopes, and efforts to understand.

More tangibly than ever before, I felt the reality that a community of people has a life and a body. A group of people truly make a person together. Just as heaven as a whole reflects a single person and as each society within it also constitute a person (Heaven and Hell 59, 68). The proof? In addition to all the actions people have taken, I believe I have begun to see early signs of the healing. This unexplainable miracle of healing at a community level indicates that the community is alive, it has some kind of integrity as a unit.

In my own body I can feel the tearing damage done by my friend's departure. I feel a hole in my chest that throbs. I witness similar signs of the torn fabric throughout the community. There is a part that is missing. Each person plays a role. The body depends on each of the services individual parts play for the whole (Heaven and Hell 64). Up to this point in my life I wasn't aware of how actual and substantial the bonds are between people. My knee hurt because I was breaking the physical integrity of the bonded fabric of my skin. My heart aches because its integrity and wholeness was broken.

Skin knows it is supposed to be a whole somehow. That's why it will heal rather than decay when it is broken.

It is not just an analogy or an illustration to say that we have lost a part of our body in this community. We are connected to each other. The spiritual body of human connection is perhaps more real that the physical structure of our bodies. There is some miraculous sense of being a unit or a whole which reels in pain when it is torn.

And, it will also heal. That is our hope. And I have seen the beginning signs. The wound will start to scab over only to be broken open and bleed many more times before the skin finally closes up.

I learned something from the wound to my knee (which is now fully closed). It still hurts. The scar tissue itself no longer has any feeling but the build up of tissue puts painful pressure on the surrounding area whenever I try to kneel. Presumably, even this pain will fade. But, the visual sign will remain, and the skin will never regain feeling and never be as supple as it was before.

I'm not ready yet to speak about how thorough the healing may be in the life to come. People like Johnny Cash sing to us about how "the circle won't be broken, by and by Lord, by and by." I long for this sense of a re-integrated circle, full of life and including all its human parts. Perhaps this will be given by and by, but for now there are scars which mark the areas of healing.

Further Reading

The angelic state is such that everyone communicates his own bliss and happiness to others. For in the other life there is a most exquisite communication and perception of all the affections and thoughts, so that each person communicates his joy to all, and all to each, so that each one is as it were the center of all. This is the heavenly form. And therefore the more there are who constitute the Lord's kingdom, the greater is the happiness, for it increases in proportion to the numbers, and this is why heavenly happiness is unutterable. There is this communication of all with each and of each with all when everyone loves others more than himself. (Arcana Coelestia 549)

The LORD builds up Jerusalem; He gathers together the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. The LORD lifts up the humble; He casts the wicked down to the ground. (Psalm 147.2-6)

The Ummah is like one body, when any part of the body suffers, the whole body feels the pain. (The Prophet Muhammad)

Brian Smith

Brian continues to thrive in his marriage to Janine. He loves his growing son Kai. He tries to minister in Toronto, Canada where they live. He is trained and employed to study sacred scripture with the purpose of empowering people in their desire to live well. Brian enjoys reading and writing and for the moment, mixed martial arts.

Article originally appeared on New Church Perspective (http://www.newchurchperspective.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.