Pat Gee, The Star Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawai’i, writes about how Episcopal priest, the Rev. Michael Lapsley journeyed from victim to victor in the years following apartheid:
“One of my primary qualities is I’ve got no hands. It gives me a point of entry to others,”?Lapsley said in an interview here Monday. “Nobody says to me, ‘You don’t know what pain is,’ though frequently pain is more invisible than not. In that sense it’s an asset — it gives us an avenue of connection. The sharing of pain connects us at the deepest level of common humanity.”
Lapsley was living in exile in Zimbabwe in April 1990 when a package to him exploded. It blew his hands off, shattered his eardrums and destroyed the sight in one eye. The Episcopalian priest said he had been targeted by the South African government for his global activism against the racist policy of apartheid, which was abolished by 1993.
Lapsley, who said on his website that he “traveled the journey from being a freedom fighter to being a healer,” is in Hawaii listening to the stories of female inmates and talking with students and members of the Judiciary, churches and the Hawaii Forgiveness Project.
Lapsley offers safe space without glib advice about healing:
“Sometimes you have to feel an emotion to its fullest before you can let go of it, but sometimes a (workshop) facilitator or someone who means well will intervene too quickly, because they can’t handle the emotion, and try to make everything better right away. You have to say, let me be weak for a while; then I’ll become strong.”
Lapsley said a Healing of Memories workshop gives people a chance to share their pain fully, without advice or judgment. “It’s not magic. We don’t give them a certificate of healing when it’s over. They are just sharing in a safe and sacred space. This can be life-changing.”
And where is God in this? Lapsley said he believes “in a God who accompanies us, who feels our pain, not in one who can deliver us from it. If I am angry with God, then I must believe that God did this, and God doesn’t send bombs.”
h/t to Jonathan Hagger at OCICBW