Beautiful Wound

Beautiful Wounds; 2014; 15

Beauty from Ashes; 2014; 15″ x 11″; mixed media: watercolor, ink, pastel.

He studied my face, streaked with happy tears. His little eyebrows furrowed in confusion. Then he leaned on my shoulder and melted into my embrace. For days after, if he was awake, he was in my arms. Only his new grandma would suffice in my place for brief periods of time. Bonding between me and my fourteen-month old Kenyan adopted son was immediate and uninterrupted.

From reading and adoptive parent training, I recognized that this attachment process evolved atypically. Still, when I claimed our daughter in Kenya a few years later and stumbled into the more normal trajectory of attachment, it shocked and knocked the wind out of me.

At first, she soaked up my nurture like a dry sponge. But, I distinctly remember the moment she let me know that the last thing she wanted was to belong to me. We visited a tourist area in Kenya, and she reached for a stranger. Somewhat bewildered, the man took her in his arms. It was time for us to leave, so I tried to take her back. She clung to this man she had never seen before and began to cry.

From there, the situation deteriorated. Through the days ahead, she kicked, hit, bit and screamed incessantly. Every ounce of her twenty-one month old body declared her resistance to relationship with me. In my mind I knew she was frantically trying to protect her heart from the unendurable nightmare of losing another mother; but my heart stung with rejection.

Those were excruciating months, navigating a foreign adoption system in flux and trying to love a child I felt terrified I would not bring home, who acted as if that was exactly what she wanted. She was still crying most of the time on our final court date in Kenya. I feared the Judge would notice, deem us unattached, and deny the adoption. Somehow we made it through that day, and many more. Slowly, moment by moment, with some easier than others, my husband and I did our best to convince her that we weren’t leaving. Slowly she began to believe us.

Several years later, the stored-up pain from that time circled back to haunt me. The knowledge of how and why it happened could no longer ease the grief. Through the wisdom of a kind and skilled counselor, I came to recognize a core fear of rejection that scarred my heart long before I met my daughter. The experience with her only scraped a wound open that lay hidden since before I could remember. But as it oozed, no longer deniable, I also heard a whispered invitation, wooing me through the pain.

In my imagination, I saw him there. Jesus, my long-time companion. He tenderly placed his hand beneath my chin and tried to turn my tearful eyes upward. I could not bear to look. Then, in a moment of breathless determination, I dared to meet His gaze. And there, I saw not rejection but utter acceptance, belonging, and affirmation. Truly, I have never been the same.

If the scraping of an old wound never came, perhaps I would still be blinded to its existence. I would never have dared to hope for healing, never have grappled my way to the Only One who can create beauty from ashes.

Is your heart broken and bleeding? My friend, dare to listen to the still, quiet invitation, ever so faint, ever so audacious – buried in a beautiful wound, driving you to the Healer.

16 thoughts on “Beautiful Wound

  1. Oh Colleen that was so beautifully expressed! God’s love is like that. And yes, sometimes we fail to see the old wounds which we still have and another experience is placed on our path to awaken us to the fact that we have more healing to be done.


  2. This artwork may have to be included in my next book – it’s about the healing journey of the artist and the artist as healer – you are both! Thank you as ALWAYS for the beauty you share. Peace, Jody


  3. What a heartbreaking experience you are sharing here. Even though it was a story initiated out of love. Old wounds are always hard to heal. The art work with this post is gorgeous and radiate the struggle you have describe. Beautiful in a heartbreaking way.


  4. It has been too long since I’ve told you how important your work is to me. Looking through the lens of your art, both painted and typed, I see the world more sharply and more beautifully at the same time. The words “thank you” are too small.


  5. I really loved this story, Colleen, particularly your description of Jesus lifting your gaze into His. I felt like I was standing there, like somehow we know what that look is like. I feel as though he is meeting us all in dreams and imaginal spaces of the heart all day long, lifting our eyes to the Truth. The feeling that comes from reflecting on these states is the most powerful feeling I know, the one that carries us along, above and yet simultaneously even more deeply within these lives we lead…



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