The Reverend Browning Ware wrote a newspaper column for almost 50 years that was carried in various newspapers, including the Austin American-Statesman. While I never heard him preach, I looked forward to his weekly messages in our paper and gained inspiration from many of his columns. This was one of my favorites, which ran Saturday, May 21, 1994.
Reverend Browning Ware
Scratch anyone deep enough, and you will discover great hurt. I was reminded of the walking wounded recently when a list of church members came to my desk. Essentially healthy and energetic, these persons do not advertise their problems, yet I know that each of them has walked in the valley of the shadow.
A critical issue on life is not whether we will be wounded, but how we respond to our disappointments. Some of us waste energy in attempting to fix blame for our injuries. Such score-keeping provides bitter satisfaction; it does not nurture our future.
Several years ago, Gerald Mann and I were driving to a favorite fishing lake, south of Uvalde. We saw a deer that had not leaped high enough to escape entanglement in the top strands of a barbed-wire fence. The wound on one front let was not deadly, but the doe’s thrashing desperation had been.
Silent miles later, Gerald and I reflected on the experience: Most of life’s wounds are not mortal; although some certainly seem to be. The response that we make to an injury may be more damaging than the wound itself.
What shall we do with a deep hurt that doesn’t fade away? First, acknowledge the problem. Denial of the issue embeds it more deeply and delays healing. Second, accept the problem as a painful school in which you have enrolled. Finally, use the injury, not parade it, to become compassionate. In helping others toward healing, we help ourselves.
Reverend Ware knew all too well of life’s wounds. In Remembering Browning Ware his cousin, Hal Haralson writes:
“Browning’s compassion for people grew out of the pain he had experienced in his own life. His mother died when he was a Baylor student. Their youngest daughter Camille suffered from cancer when she was ten. Their son Brooks died when he was in his thirties. His closest friend took his own life the day after hunting season was over. His first marriage ended in divorce. Alzheimer’s took his wife Juanell from him and robbed him of companionship in his final years. Connie, his youngest brother, died of cancer a year before Browning.”
The Reverend Ware passed away from cancer in October 2002 at the age of 73: Even in dying, Browning Ware listened and learned. A collection of his columns was published in 2003 by Augustine Press: Diary of a Modern Pilgrim: Life Notes From One Man’s Journey.
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Reflection: Write about an example from your own experience that illustrates Reverend Ware’s message: “Wound May Not Be Fatal But Reaction to it Can Be.” Have you ever experienced “the doe thrashing” reaction? What was the outcome? What was the lesson?
You’re invited to share your response here OR simply explore this as a Journal Exercise.