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The stone rejected by the builders has become the corner stone. This is the work of the Lord and is marvellous to see. We can understand that scripture verse both in relation to Christ who is the corner stone of all our faith and also in relation to ourselves.

So I would like to share a few thoughts on just how it might relate to ourselves. As you reflect back over your life what was the most difficult period, what was it that you found most painful and what you felt like rejecting the most? What is it that you find most difficult to talk about or have never shared with anyone. Most of us don’t have to look too far to find that particular something and most likely we locked it away some place in our minds where we thought it safe in the hope that we would never have to revisit it again for as long as we live. What we generally find is that something we try to keep hidden will keep coming back to haunt us until we make room for it in our lives.

What might some of those things be?

It might be an issue to do with one or other of our parents or even both in relation to how we felt treated. Most parents would claim to love all their children equally but in practice this is not the case. They often do have favourites and if you were made feel the ugly duckling in relation to others then that does leave a big wound. Likewise growing up in a home where there was alcoholism or violence doesn’t leave us unscarred.

Even after all the abuse scandals being highlighted in recent years there are still a huge number of people who have never got the courage to tell their own story of how they were shamed and had their boundaries violated.

There may have been a heart rendering loss in your life, even as a child, that rocked you to the foundations and made you question the goodness of life.

You may have been married for years and then discovered your partner was being unfaithful. Suddenly your world goes pear shaped and you find yourself on your own. It feels as if life has let you down and been unkind to you.

These and so many more are all the corner stones we are inclined to reject as something we don’t want in our lives. At the time of their happening its impossible to see how we might ever find a place for them let alone make them a cornerstone of importance.

In the photo on the left is a piece of a shipwreck from two hundred years ago. It was brought to the surface by local fishermen in their nets close to Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. At first sight it seems utterly unattractive being full of slime and pockmarked by sea worms. Their first inclination was to consign it back to the deep and the second was one of curiosity. What might it be like if turned on the lathe? Could it reveal some surprises? Having held onto the wood for some time and regarding it as a nuisance and waste of space I eventually began to turn it and was surprised to find inside an exquisite colour. It’s actually an exotic hardwood known as Paduak. Because it’s denser than water, it doesn’t float, and so sank to the bottom where it remained for two centuries.

Once cut and seeing its inner beauty I proceeded to design the remainder into the ornate bowl that you see on the right of the photo. It’s even difficult to imagine that such a piece of beauty could have originated from something so unattractive and yet the wreckage was the raw material.

Such is the mystery and challenge of life. It presents us with lots of wreckage like some of the issues mentioned above. The temptation is to relegate then back to the depths of the unconscious, while the challenge is to do something positive with them.

The greatest healers in the world have themselves been deeply wounded by life, but they have not allowed their hurts to define them. Instead they have transformed them into sources of healing for others.

The ones who work best with abuse victims have usually their own horrendous story of being a victim themselves but having faced their own pain it gives them compassion and understanding and a unique ability to offer hope to victims.

It’s utterly a marvel to our eyes to witness how something so tragic as sexual abuse or a violent, dysfunctional childhood can become the cornerstone of a person’s adult identity and makes them who they are. Yet it is the testimony of so many that having had the courage to face their pain, and engage with their issues, something that was utterly horrendous could be so transformed as to become the cornerstone of their lives. That same challenge is there for all of us.

Fr Jim Cogley


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