You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Suffering’ category.

Wisdom is meaningless until your own experience has given it meaning … and there wisdom is the selection of wisdom.

Bergan Evans

+ + +

Many time people tell me that their brother, sister, mother, spouse does not seem to understand their plight in life.  The complaint I hear tells of the suffering and estrangement of being unable to experience a connection between those who you know well and for a long time and a person facing significant trials, angst, uncertainty, suffering and pain.

I always remind these people that one of the hardest things to do is to experience the experience of another.

Why is that?

Well, the primary reason is this: people do not examine their own experience in life fully.

Most people ignore the actual event of life.  They live what is easy, pleasant, necessary – but avoid the unpleasant things, challenges, the mystery of their own life and experience.  In that avoidance, one cannot take on another’s plight.  That being the case, two people who know one another – even reside with one another – cannot maintain an intimate connection with one another.  Sad and commonplace, but unnecessary.

The answer?  Live deeply, not on the surface.  Reflect on what is presented to you – whether good or bad, difficult or easy.

We are given a life so it may be fully lived, fully explored and experienced.  If you fall short, you reduce yourself and likely lapse into a smallness that leads to your own disorder … and your ability to befriend and love others, and to be compassionate is put out of reach.

It is easier to say you feel another’s pain, than it is to feel another’s pain.

Shalom.

There was a time when people were not concerned about self.  It was a time of simply being.  (Emphasis added.)

Gerald May, M.D., in Simply Sane

+ + +

It is said by some that when Adam and Eve partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that this is the moment when consciousness is born, when man and woman see themselves as “self” – as living in a state of being “separate” and “apart” from God and one another.

That said, Dr. May in his book Simply Sane examines the evolution of the human being once he and she discovers the self and other.  

May sees this as a very significant turning point that posts a false state of being and creates very difficult tensions, and problems, for the human person.

In particular, May reminds us when we were less conscious of self we are more aware of being itself, and life and creation as we were but a part.  Says May, when we focus on self our awareness fades and thought clutters our mind.  This transition, I offer with May’s help, creates distance between one person and another, imposes particular burdens on a single person and makes intimate experience far more difficult for the distance consciousness of self fosters between one person and an other, or all others – and in relationship with the Divine. One might ask in this context, Can one know the “I Am” when one must be the I am?

Yes, in self comes estrangement.  In a way, consciousness of self makes another a potential threat, an enemy.  Perhaps this is why we seem to prefer that “God is dead” or forgotten in the present secular age.

I have come over the years to see the loss of intimacy as a major and very damaging issue in modern life.  My observation has me think about so many of the modern horrors and disordered behaviors and wonder if it is not the estrangement from our divine and whole being and the resultant loss of intimacy that gives rise to so many modern illnesses and murderous escapades.

I ask for instance: What explains the homicidal rage of ISIS?  What empowers the need for nation states, like Iran or North Korea, to fortify themselves against “others” as they do?  Why is a flawed ideology like Marxism so embraced by “educated” people who should know it’s ugly and brutal history?  Why is pornography so prevalent?  How can homosexuality can exist in a vowed religious community?  How can women justify the killing of an innocent, unborn child in the womb?  How can the Left justify their lying to secure political power at the expense of their dignity and honor?  How can once great nations, where freedom was secured and debate welcomed, become so divided, so at war with their citizens with whom they do not agree? How can obvious dangers be ignored and incidents be overlooked because they are at odds one’s distorted political view of what is “correct?”  How can people lie to themselves and live what is false and a lie itself?  Cover up and excuse horrible crimes?

Self.  Self more than other.  Thought replacing awareness.  The other as enemy. Estrangement. Loss of relationship.  Loss of intimacy. Distance from others. Distance from one significant other.  Sickness on display.  Sickness excused, justified.  Sickness.  Decay.  Decline.  Death.

Think about it.

Shalom.

Question: When can we prosecute Hillary for national security breaches, or at least get her psychiatric help?

We should know that we are gods.  If we think like gods we become like gods, if we think like demons we become like demons.

The Words of a Headmaster of a Hindu School for Religious Scholars

+ + +

Suspended.

We are suspended between what is good, and what is not.  Such a plight presents a heart-felt tension on a daily basis.

My life on a mountain ridge is peaceful.  There is open space, wide and endless skies, a new sunrise each morning with colors and streams of light that are never the same from day-to-day.  In the evening, sunsets – each with their own shadows and hues.  And there is the wind – sometimes it howls, and other times it has a gentle voice, a soft and comforting voice of a sweet and lovely lady.

I live away for the crowds and the strife that was my life, my way of being.

As a lawyer I fought.  It was so easy.  I knew combat from a childhood “on the wrongs side of the tracks.”  We all knew that for we all held the short straw and others held us in contempt.

Lately I have realized that kneeling in preparation to receive the Body of Christ is the only thing I do each day that offers me the profession of humility – the declaration of my natural state, by actual state of being.  Suspended between the gods and demons, kneeling I speak the very essence of reality.

Suspended between gods and demons.  In the quiet of the ridge, I am close to God.  In this, I love and value life and others more deeply.  Finally, I know the blessing of love.  Yet, suspended I still remain, hoping that the demons depart …

Shalom.

 

For those who face a trial and complain or become resentful.

… do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing … to the degree that you share the suffering of Christ …

1 Pet 4:12, 13

+ + +

How often have I heard someone say: why is this happening to me?  Why am I suffering?

In what are rarer instances, I have witnessed in my life those who have faced hard challenges and yet never complained.  I think of my mother: struggling to find work, alone – having lost her parents when she was still a young lady.  And I think of my young wife with cancer, a punishing disease that worsened year by year. Neither complained.

I am asked from time to time, was your mother faithful?  I answer: “yes, by the way she lived – she encountered hardship and never wavered.”  The same could be said of my wife. They each possessed a courage that tells of faith, that comes from faith, that rests on faith.

They believed.  They saw God in the trials, and they walked with God without complaint, or doubt and they never felt sorry for themselves.  Indeed, they put others first.

In our trials we draw closer to God and learn to rely on God not on our self.  We learn that we are not alone and that life is but a passing.  In this we see who we are and what a human being is and can be.  We see how those who do not believe are in constant turmoil and how they cause problems for themselves and others – how discontented they are.

To believe in the midst of a trial is to be a witness to others of the Truth that gives us peace: we are God’s children and we are never alone or forgotten.

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Ask yourself – does this culture promote or disparage faith and the experience of God?

Have faith.  Act accordingly.

Shalom.

On the Eve of a New Year

And now I was lonelier … than anyone in the world … I had to be alone, entirely alone, if I wanted to live.

Wladyslaw Szpilman, in The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

+ + +

These are the words classical pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman uses to describe the moment in Nazi-occupied Warsaw when he knew he’d have to hide from those who would kill him, have to be “entirely alone” to live.

His story is beautifully told in the movie The Pianist.  

What he says is true.  In a way, we must be alone to come to life – a life lived at depth and with reach, with meaning – in fulfillment, and in truth.  

This is a challenge to each of us.

However, many struggle mightily to avoid the challenges – to push the loss, or betrayal, calamity, or truth about themselves or others far from them (as if that is possible, and illness and confusion will not ensue).

There is an exquisite moment in the film when a particular invaluable truth is portrayed and it is when, with the Russians approaching Warsaw from the East, Wladyslaw is discovered in an abandoned home by a German officer named Wilm Hosenfeld.

In the stunned silence of this moment, Captain Hosenfeld asks Wladyslaw to play on an elegant piano that has survived persistent bombardments; and, Wladyslaw plays while the officer listens in rapt attention.  It is as if the beauty of this Jewish pianist’s artistry and the composer creative genius have touched the soul of the Nazi Captain.

The truth of the moment is the confirmation of the soul and its place of occupancy in each of them as it is in each of us.

The pianist’s talent and the composer’s gift traveled from one to another, from despised to preferred, from hunted to hunter.  With this the Nazi officer becomes the pianist’s protector – one who hides him and secures food for him so he might live.

The soul.  The unity of beauty, and creating, and music that lifts us and pulls us to each other.  No, evil cannot eradicate this.

Yes, evil and misguided ideas can cloud our way, dissuade us that bad is good when bad has a greater social acceptance.  And herein is the relationship between alone and full life.

The pianist and the officer each, individually and in silence, isolated from all around them, experienced what exists within and the eternal good that is in and of the soul – a soul created by God’s desire and design.

The truth of the matter for me, as I look back on my seven decade journey, is this: the trials and the “aloneness” that they impose on us – permit access to the soul and bridge the gaps between the preferred and the despised.  For you see, each is to cross the bridge of tears alone before life is fully lived from the soul outward.

May you think of this as the new year dawns.

Shalom.

Footnaote – Wladyslaw Szpilman purused his career as a concert pianist until his death at 88, in 2000.  Captain Wilm Hosenfeld died in a Soviet Prison Camp in 1952.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

+ + +

Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

For all my friends here and now, those of yesterday and those deceased – those precious ones who lived the life God gave them no matter the circumstances, no matter the cost.  They are among the shinning stars of every dark night sky.

# # #

Strictly speaking, he was alone; but the room, and his interior life, was full of companionship.

Paul Elie, in The Life You Save May Be Your Own

+ + +

At any given time well over nine out of ten of the people you see around you will not have journeyed far or well, and surely not deeply and broadly enough.

You see most people are encased in their own immediate self – that is to say the surface experience of life as it either appears to present itself to them or as they selectively screen it to appear, twist it to their small template – a template usually nailed together by the hammer of yesterday’s hurts.

We are social animals and you realize the power of this when you realize those around you care not very deeply about you, that as soon as something captures them you are forgotten, misplaced or used like one might use a garden tool: only when necessary and convenient, then housed in the shed ’til another season of need appears.

For some, indeed for all I dare say, this is hurtful.

Social animals would rather not be garden tools touched only seasonally and only for a brief time.  But that is the way it frequently is and must be because others journey on the surface until they gain wisdom from hardship, and most importantly – we must know hurt and alone or we cannot know our self and The Divine, and we cannot love without need.

If we are never misplaced and forgotten, we can never be found and remembered.  If we are not shelved we can never be precious and handled with care, sought for who we are and what we do.

Yes, being alone is difficult but it is essential to your the journey.

If you want sadness and disorder and inexcusable hurt all in one I give you this: most people never really enter the journey for only the wise and strong come to welcome alone.

Shalom.

Share this with others if you wish.

_________

Note: Thanks to the Podesta emails which have been made public, we know that important Clinton campaign figures were concerned that Ms. Clinton was securing cash donations that might raise questions.  Likewise, the emails show that others associated with the Clintons raised concerns that Mr. Clinton was accepting cash and valuable gifts that might raise questions.  Those who represent us must not act in ways that create these sorts of concerns among their own partisans.

The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

Rumi

+ + +

I have a friend.  He has some limitations.  His learning is slowed and he is autistic. He is very devoted to his faith. He is humble and truthful and when he is feeling well he laughs a healthy laugh.

He is a kind man who attends daily Mass and reads scripture each day.

God is central to his life. He is a good person.  He is without guile.  Loves baseball. Is a good son and sibling.  Yet, at certain points his illness appears in him in a manner that he worries that he is not good enough, that he has not “measured-up.”

It is painful to see him suffer in these concerns.

In thinking about him, I realize that God sends us very special people whose presence teaches us. My friend is a martyr – one who suffers a wound so we might see the Light.

Yes, his wound most assuredly shows the Light.

How obvious this truth is – if we but see.  Here is a man who is captivated by God and his faith – a man, at the same time, who is captured by his affliction.

Captivated by faith, and captured by affliction.  Is this not one who is Chosen?  

In contrast, look around you.  We have “public” figures who keep their secrets like they are precious religious artifacts, who lie, hide their wrong-doing, lust for money, power and sexual pleasure … and do so for years upon years.  Yes, they gain money – often ill-gotten cash, and yes, they have things – but do they tell you of their afflictions?  Do they worry about their relationship with God?  Or do they, with the privileged educations and life opportunities, lead others to a retinue of immoral objectives, and foolish and divisive demands?

My friend is in the express lane to heaven.  The famous figures I mention need not expect the same destination.  Their time will be spent rotting away, in a cold, never-ending darkness – – – quite as they have lived.  For them, a well-earned final destination.

Light or darkness, you decide.

Shalom.

Meeting on the road to Basra/You half blind in a blood soaked coat/me I’m a fallen angel/fallen from the burning tree of doubt

Capercaillie, God’s Alibi 

+ + +

It is hard not to see the Fall today.  Our story.  Own it.

I.

Falling today.  Like yesterday.

Like all the yesterdays.

…  fallen from the burning tree of doubt

II.

 … witness to the moon and stars above

Made free.  Free will.  Free to will.  Ah, the implicit, unseen test.

Divine Law.  Nature and its laws.

One positive command.

 One prohibition.

One tree … in the Garden’s perfect peace.

III.

a state of claustrophobia

THE temptation.  Doubt in the mind.

“Weren’t no passion … “

In the mind.

“No, death,” the Tempter said, ” … you shall be as gods knowing good and evil.”

IV.

the longest note like a silence, never broken

Pride is the worm on the hook.  Lost fishermen bite very time.

  Rebellion.

Formal, reasoned, intentional acts.

Disobedience – our grievous fault.

Will misused.  Compliance rejected.  Surrender scorned.

Sacred wisdom ignored.  Holy dominion denied.

 Old worm, same bite.

V.

fear in the eyes, did the crucifix lie/did the words of the church run dry

It did not lie.  The words have not dried.

The Road to Fidelity is not hidden.  On it the stooped shoulders of the humbled become upright …

… and there The Narrow Gate.

VI.

I’m a witness to the crumbling walls … But I’m not your alibi

Free will misunderstood.  It is not impeccable.

 Sin prospers in it when we are gods.

Yes, Thomas – its perfection in God’s design.

There are no alibis.

Shalom.

Note – Today’s blog is inspired by Adolphe Tanquerey’s writing on The Fall and Scottish band Capercaille’s extraordinary song God’s Alibi.

Live with men as if God saw you; converse with God as if men heard you.

Seneca, in Epistolae ad Lucilium

+ + +

Jung’s initial concern is to look within, to seek to find how it is that one is fragmented – not yet whole.  Another way of saying: look to find the source of your discomfort, what causes your brokenness, sense of division, injury, apprehension.

In his first step, Jung sought to determine how a person was stuck living simply in their ego – a primary way of existing and one that impinged on one’s knowledge of self and the peace that comes from self-awareness.

One might think of the ego stage as a stage in which injuries, deficits, fears, shortfalls and one’s immediate recent history and human experience keeps one on the defensive rather than fully appreciative of the wholeness that we present when well, and self-aware.  This is that uneasy stage where things, attitudes, defenses, excuses, fears and the like keep us in a fragmented state, a state of psychic discomfort and tension.

In Step Two, the focus shifts from understanding one’s discomforts and disorders to focusing on the “ultimate meaning and purpose” of life – that is, one shifts from a therapeutic and analytical focus to one that is spiritual, metaphysical, religious.

Yes, for Jung religion, belief, faith, spiritual existence is an integrator – – – a way to wholeness, meaning and purpose.  Hence, self-awareness brings one to the soul and extra-mortal understanding.  In this, Jung introduces us to the collective unconscious – the frontier of archetypal reality that spans the human’s experience in all time.  The point being that there a common experience sown into the human over human history – we are in some ways the same in this experience and that sameness cannot be denied lest one remains at-odds and dependent on the lesser status of living egoistically, on the defensive, trapped in a futile effort at fortification, control, fantasy, falsehood and frustration.

So initially, one tries to look within to find how one is fragmented, disintegrated and ill-at-ease to then seek to identify the over-riding meaning and purpose in a human life. We move, in this, from ego and injury to self-awareness, meaning and purpose – become a more fully formed person – a self, a soul with reason to be, and a capacity to live more fully.

Every particular Thou is a glimpse through to eternal Thou; by means of every particular Thou the primary word address the eternal Thou.

Martin Buber, in I and Thou

It is shear folly and protracted illness to attempt to live without God – and this is just what we do now in our exclusionary secularism.  We are stuck in the smallness of the egotistical, of whom there are a great supply.

Shalom.

 

Welcome Message

Categories

Log In

%d bloggers like this: