I read aloud to my fourth graders every afternoon to wrap up the day. This month we are reading Into the Land of the Unicorn by Bruce Coville. Cara is a young heroine who takes a literal leap of faith and lands in Luster, home of the Unicorns. Early in the story she gets into a fight for her life with a snarky creature who wants the amulet she has been entrusted with. When she wakes up she is being healed by a unicorn who tells her that she has one wound that is harder to heal, a spiritual wound.
The reason I read Into the Land of the Unicorn is for the lessons in moral courage and choice. I’ve read that book dozens of times, but I have never noticed that particular line before today. “You have a spiritual wound that is much harder to heal.” Without thinking I asked, “What is a spiritual wound?” I didn't expect very much from the question. They were only fourth graders after all, average, squirmy ready for the day to end fourth graders. They’re not even one of my best classes. The question wasn't even out of my mouth when their hands shot up. I called on Nate who was waving his hand frantically.
He took a deep breath then sat up straighter as if to add emphasis to the point he was about to make, “A spiritual wound is what God gives you to help get you where you need to be.” There were a dozen heads nodding in agreement followed by more urgent waving of hands. I did what a wise teacher does when confronted with the unfathomable, stayed silent and called on my students. I listened to them agree with each other that a spiritual wound is necessary.
I think my young philosophers were onto something. I love the idea that spiritual wounds are a way for God to get you where you need to be. If I understand my young scholars correctly a spiritual wound is sacred, the healing of which changes you and those around you. The first step is to acknowledge it, that means letting go of the shame that we seem so attached to these day. The shame that binds us in fear is infinitely more damaging than the wound itself. How might our lives be different if we treated our wounds as a scared gift instead of something we need to hide? After all, it’s either fear or love, baby.