Thursday, August 18, 2022

August 18--More on Suffering

Home is an invention on which no one has yet improved.  --Ann Douglas

    I like this one! 
    I feel compelled to offer more on suffering, as that is this week's topic in Richard Rohr's "Daily Meditation." (See Aug 16 post for the first part on this topic.) Here are his words:
When we are inside of great love and great suffering, we have a much stronger possibility of surrendering our ego controls and opening ourselves to the whole field of life. In great suffering, things happen against our will—which is what makes it suffering. Over time, we can learn to give up our defended state, because we seemingly have no choice. The situation is what it is, although we will invariably cycle through stages of denial, anger, bargaining, resignation, and (hopefully) acceptance. The suffering might feel wrong, terminal, absurd, unjust, impossible, physically painful, or merely beyond our comfort zone. Can you see why we must have a proper attitude toward suffering? So many things, every day, leave us out of control—even if it is just a long stoplight. Remember, however, that if we do not transform our pain, we will surely transmit it to those around us and even to the next generation.

Suffering, of course, can lead us in either of two directions: (1) it can make us very bitter and cause us to shut down, or (2) it can make us wise, compassionate, and utterly open, because our hearts have been softened, or perhaps because we feel as though we have nothing more to lose. Suffering often takes us to the very edge of our inner resources where we “fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), even when we aren’t sure we believe in God! We must all pray for the grace of this second path of softening and opening. My opinion is that this is the very meaning of the phrase “deliver us from evil” in the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer). In this statement, we aren’t asking to avoid suffering. It is as if we are praying, “When big trials come, God, hold on to me, and don’t let me turn bitter or blaming”—which is an evil that leads to so many other evils.
    I have a living example of bitterness and transmitting pain to those nearby in my older brother Ken. He has been my most powerful teacher in this lifetime, and for that I am grateful. I am also profoundly thankful for the wisdom of the 12-Step program enabling me to transform the suffering on an ongoing basis.

Senecio "Angel Wings" at CSU Gardens

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