Monday, April 22, 2013

Healing for Broken Hearts: Reflections on the Boston Marathon

I have the blessing of volunteering at Grace Medical Home, a beautiful clinic where we strive to "see to it that no one misses the grace of God" (Hebrews 12:15). The medical director, Dr. Marvin Hardy, is known for a genuine faith made complete through action. He often quotes Robert Pierce, founder of World Vision, whose heart was pierced by the widespread hunger he saw in China. "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God," he later said. World Vision emerged from such compassionate longings, and thousands of children have been adopted and given new lives ... all because of one man's broken heart.

What breaks our hearts? What shakes us to the core? And what does it take for us to get out of ourselves and begin to live for others? 

These questions seem much more poignant this week since the devastating bombings at the Boston Marathon. The surreal events of that day and everything that followed have shaken many of us to the core. It breaks my heart to think of the families who lost loved ones and the people whose lives changed overnight through the physical and emotional injuries they sustained. I continue to pray for them without ceasing; their pain and loss broke my heart.

While sharing with a group of physicians at a conference some weeks ago, I cried. I had not planned on wearing my heart on my sleeve in front of all those people. But while reading a moving story about Mother Teresa's loving care of a man off the streets, my heart broke. And I'm glad. Several doctors in the audience later shared that my vulnerability somehow softened their hearts right then, bringing healing to their own broken hearts over some recent losses. The God of healing was clearly at work, the path for His healing touch cleared through the honest and raw sharing of real pain.

This week, upon hearing the stories of people affected by the Boston Marathon bombings, my heart broke. Somehow, hearing about the loss of an innocent eight year-old boy in Boston brought back the pain of losing my eight year-old cousin to a violent death three years ago. Quite unexpectedly, their pain became my own. Yet, the stories of the selfless deeds that followed the bombings have, slowly, begun a mending work in this wounded heart once more. 

I found the story of Carlos Arredondo particularly moving. Having lost his two sons in the past ten years (one in Iraq, another to suicide), he now lives to advocate for peace. The losses in his life now fuel loving actions toward others. His broken heart seems to heal a bit more with each new selfless act, as when he came to the aid of a man badly hurt in Boston, never leaving him until he'd done all he could do. All he could do.

Empathy made complete through action is a fountain of life, of healing, of hope.

Whether our empathy touches one life or thousands, our broken hearts can be fertile soil for a harvest of compassion that begets new life in someone else's garden. Wounded healers who have the grace to heal in this way become God's instruments of healing, redemption, and life. May we all receive such grace as we face the losses of life, that we may rise above each one, spared the dangers of a hardened heart, and becoming more whole and loving people. For each mended hurt can become a saving balm to heal someone else's wounds ... in time.

Broken to become whole,
Dr Mari

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:31 

...by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

"Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue." (Eugene O'Neill)

No comments:

Post a Comment