One of my blog-o-shere friends responded re a recent post of mine about the role of feeling in alleviating the “heaviness” of life’s burdens. (Twominutesofgrace@wordpress.com) She has been a therapist at one point in her life and noted how that part of her healing was learning the art of “reciprocal vulnerability” in the therapeutic relationship. One of the pitfalls of being professional care-givers is that so often we do carry our own load of guilt and shame and seek to assuage those feelings with our clients. If we go too far in that direction, if we trot out the Clintonian, “I feel your pain” too often, we might discover we have made it too much about ourselves. But if we refuse vulnerability in the first place—barricaded behind professional jargon, cliche, and the DSM IV—we don’t need to be in the position of therapist, pastor, or “care-giver” in the first place.
Someone once said, “To be is to be vulnerable.” I think the Apostle Paul had this in mind when he wrote to one church, “I was with you in weakness, and fear, and much trembling.” Shakespeare, in Hamlet, described vulnerability as having a heart “full of penetrable stuff” suggesting that without vulnerability we are “impenetrable.” And impenetrability is the natural trajectory of the human ego. It resists anything which causes it discomfort.