Ah! My lovely white peony is at last losing its petals, the blooming far too brief, but perhaps more precious because of its brevity. The scattered petals stand in stark relief against the brown mulch, an offering of purity, a reminder of the fragility of life and the temporality of its gifts.
Reading about suffering this morning...the wise words of Sister Joan Chittister. Reflecting on the ability of suffering to either destroy us or to reshape us in ways which open us to compassion and possibility...about its ability to remind us that this, too, shall pass...that life is made of stages, seasons, ever-changing, on-going, a cycle of life that never remains the same.
and it came to pass...
The Bible's "And it came to pass..."
Elie Wiesel's "And yet..."
the Tao's "Life IS life..."
words of wisdom & comfort, all...
but we want things to be different
than they are...want assurances...
want the bases covered...
only that is not Life!
Life is the unfolding of moments...
the tick of the clock...the strains of
Barber's "Adagio"...the fragrance of
fresh coffee...the distant sounds of
traffic...the warble of birds...the
hum of the furnace...the shadow of
my hand on the page...the growl
of my empty stomach.
It is walking with deliberation &
joy...with awareness & gratitude,
eyes wide open, heart attuned to
the pace, the rhythm of your own
beating heart, to the pulse
of the world's living energy...
It is caring deeply enough about
your today and other's tomorrows
that you make wise & heartfelt decisions
about using, spending, wasting...
It is spending your life profligately,
unconcerned about saving it for
a rainy day but splashing through
the puddles in joyous awareness that
rain is as necessary for life as
sunshine...that light comes only
after darkness...that awe & wonder
are the only truly appropriate
responses to this incredible
gift that is
Often the most debilitating suffering is the result of things we do to ourselves, the decisions we make, the paths we choose to follow. And often this kind of suffering plagues us for years, tears us apart inside, as we are unable, unwilling to let it go. Yet let it go we must, lest we become swaddled in the superficial. If we let it, this kind of suffering can cause us to ask new questions of life, to ask, "Is it worth it?"...the job, the career, the difficult relationship, the superficial friendship, maintaining the outer facade?
And the most important question Sister Joan asks in this morning's reading brought me up short. IS IT WORTH WHAT I CANNOT DO WHILE I'M DOING THIS INSTEAD? On other words, is is really worth spending my life...spending my life, the only valuable currency i really have...on petty, tawdry, useless things? things which make life small rather than large and full, which diminish rather than expand and enrich?
We may never be totally healed of our suffering, especially that which is self-imposed...but it does not have to keep us bound. Think of Lazarus emerging from the tomb, the disciples from Emmaus seeing Jesus anew...pain and grief reshaped into disbelieving joy. Think of the gift of each new day- fresh, beautiful, pristine, the slate clean- the opportunity to begin again. May this day be that gift for you, dear ones, wherever you are.
the Emmaus Road...
How often have i let the past
with its mistakes, its decisions
dripping with regret, its twists and turns
on paths fraught with suffering
of my own making, shape
How often have i let the past
hold me captive in its thrall and,
vampire-like, suck the very life-blood
from me, paling and impaling me,
wraith-like, on pain and regret?
But on my own Emmaus Road
i met a man who spoke
of truth...who opened up the way
to me of new life, hope, and
reshaped dreams, and Sunday after Sunday,
i know him in the breaking of the bread,
in the community of faith
gathered as one body...
and i begin anew.