Sunday, July 7, 2013

We all suffer together

Reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, better make sure I'm spelling her name right. Yes! There is another St. Thérèse of Lisieux, so I had to check to be sure.

She writes about being at her father's bedside during his final illness and that he suffered greatly from back pain at the end. She comforted him by saying that Our Lord, Christ, wanted him to share in some of the suffering that He experienced while carrying the cross. Later addition: I want to add the saint's words here directly, so I don't alter the meaning (translated from Spanish): "I said to him that, as he used to think so devoutly of the Lord carrying the Cross on His back, he must suppose His Majesty wished him to feel something of what He Himself had suffered under that trial. This comforted him so much that I do not think I ever heard him complain again."

 It could sound ludicrous, I suppose, to view this as a comfort; and yet it was of the greatest comfort and allowed him to bear his suffering. There is something about a burden shared that makes it so much more bearable.

And so I feel whenever I am afflicted with the pains of losing my children, and by the pain of seeing them not take care of themselves. I know that I am suffering alongside many others who have gone through this same time of trial. I'm not trying to be either a sadist, and wish on them the same pain as I have, nor a masochist, wanting to suffer as they have! It's simply the human condition to suffer at different times, and sometimes throughout life. Some people are given much greater suffering than others. There's plenty to go around, no doubt! There is no need to seek it out. It will be given to you in good measure, be assured.

We were talking to Dwaine's sister over July 4 and she spoke to us for the first time of how many times she cried her eyes out for her daughter, who had many problems when she was younger. I wasn't there to console her at that time, but she was able to console me by showing that she and her family made it through. They are certainly not a trouble-free family now, but at a happier place in their lives.

We never suffer alone. We don't live in a vacuum but are surrounded -- by what I can only describe, in religious terms, as "such a great cloud of witnesses" to help us through any struggle, be it great or small, or even of our own making (as so many of them are).

It's the opposite of "In space, no one can hear you scream!" That's just the feeling the small, lonely ego has, besides being great fodder for horror movies. Isn't it the greatest horror to imagine that you are, after all, completely alone and unloved?

The ego is damaged in this sense -- it has lost its connection to all of this divine creation surrounding us and must cling and grasp to various things, but the soul knows better than the ego does!

Why do I talk of suffering so often here? I guess I view our suffering as the foundation of our character and the way our spirits are refined.


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