Christian Wiman on Wounds We Won’t Get Over (and the Reprieve Therein)

A stunning excerpt from the great poet’s essay “The Limit,” which can be found in […]

David Zahl / 2.5.13

A stunning excerpt from the great poet’s essay “The Limit,” which can be found in his collection Ambition and Survival:

joyeux_noel_ver3_xlg“There are wounds we won’t get over. There are things that happen to us that, no matter how hard we try to forget, no matter with what fortitude we face them, what mix of religion and therapy we swallow, what finished and durable forms of art we turn them into, are going to go on happening inside of us for as long as our brains are alive.

And yet I’ve come to believe, and in rare moments can almost feel, that like an illness some vestige of which the body keeps to protect itself, pain may be its own reprieve; that the violence that is latent within us may be, if never altogether dispelled or tamed, at least acknowledged, defined, and perhaps by dint of the love we feel for our lives, for the people in them and for our work, rendered into an energy that need not be inflicted on others or ourselves, an energy we may even be able to use; and that for those of us who have gone to war with our own minds there is yet hope for what Freud called ‘normal unhappiness,’ wherein we might remember the dead without being haunted by them, give to our lives a coherence that is not ‘closure,’ and learn to live with our memories, our families, and ourselves amid a truce that is not peace.”

As a reminder, Mbird is co-sponsoring an evening with Christian Wiman here in Charlottesville, VA at 7pm on Weds 3/6. His talk is titled “And I Was Alive: Faith in a Faithless Time”, and the event is free. If you’re coming from out of town, we might be able to help you find a place to stay. Email us at