By: RON ROLHEISER, OMI
This piece is for all of you who, for every kind of reason, feel less than virgin.
Too many of us have been raped, abused, used, or, in youth and immaturity, made choices to let ourselves be touched by the wrong people and now wish we had more virginity left to give to those whom we presently love and want to be touched uniquely by … but we’ve been touched by those others, suffered those violations, made those mistakes. Where does it leave us? Do our history and our scars forever compromise our present and future loves? Is virginity, of all kinds, once lost, forever gone? Or, can we, in every new love and new conversion, give ourselves virginally, beyond scars and mistakes?
Somebody once said that the real secret of life is not to learn how to live, but to learn how to live again, and again, and again. There’s wisdom in that, especially given the truth of the resurrection, namely, that death is not final, but crucified bodies can rise to fresh life.
Alice Walker once wrote a mini-creed that expresses this:
I have learned not to worry about love;
but to honour its coming
with all my heart.
To examine the dark mysteries
of the blood
with headless heed and
to know the rush of feelings
swift and flowing
The source appears to be
within our twin and triple
the new face I turn up
no other else on earth
seen. (Revolutionary Petunias and Other Poems)
But hasn’t someone else already seen that face? Hasn’t someone else already touched it? What’s unique, untouched, about the face you show someone today?
Let me speak to this by drawing on an idea from John of the Cross. In The Living Flame of Love he calls the most precious core of our being our “deepest centre”. He then goes on to define that deepest centre this way:
Generally when we think of our deepest centre we spontaneously picture a spot deep inside the heart and soul where all that is most sincere, most precious, and most sacred to us is rooted. It’s a soft spot, a virgin spot, a lonely spot. From it come our love and tears. We can be raped, but untouched there. We can abuse ourselves or give ourselves away irresponsibly and remain virginal there. Indeed, we can be married to someone and be alone in that spot. Understanding this can be helpful in dealing with abuse, rape, and choices gone sour.
John of the Cross refers to this spot when he speaks of our deepest centre. But he adds something to it. For him, the deepest centre of something is its furthest point of growth, it’s bloom. For example, a flower’s deepest centre would be the optimum point it can grow to before it begins to die.
Thus, in this view, the deepest centre of a flower would be its bloom and its producing of seed, it’s highest point of growth before it dies.
This is useful in understanding ourselves, especially as regards the feelings we have about ourselves as having lost something precious, some virginity, that we would now like to have back so as to be able to give it to someone else.
As human beings, our optimal point of growth is not biological. Our most important bloom is not our body at the peak of its health and sexual beauty. Our real bloom has to do with the maturing of our hearts and soul. Given the truth of that, know this: No forced or regretted touch from the past has ever touched you in your true deepest centre, nobody has ever taken your real virginity away – because these did not touch your soul and heart in their maturity. Alice Walker is right: The new face you turn up, no other else on earth has ever seen.