mental indigestion

Easter Reflection: Permit Your Pain to Become the Pain April 23, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 2:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilate condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured and crucified him.

Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.

Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a “light burden” and an “easy yoke” (Matthew 11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.

– Henri Nouwen

Advertisements
 

Good Friday Reflections April 10, 2009

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 9:17 am
Tags: , ,

“Your heart is broken, the heart that did not know hatred, revenge, resentment, jealousy or envy but only love, love so deep and so wide that it embraces your Father in heaven as well as all humanity in time and space. Your broken heart is the source of my salvation, the foundation of my hope, the cause of my love. It is the sacred place where all that was, is and ever shall be is held in unity. There all suffering has been suffered, all anguish lived, all loneliness endured, all abandonment felt and all agony cried out. There, human and divine love have kissed, and there God and all men and women of history are reconciled. All the tears of the human race have been cried there, all pain understood and all despair touched.”

*****

“Blood and water flowed from your broken heart. Lord Jesus, help me to understand this mystery. So much blood has flowed through the centuries: blood of people who did not even know why they were trampled underfoot, mutilated, tortured, slain, beheaded and left unburied; blood caused by swords, arrows, guns and bombs, tainting the faces of millions of people; blood that comes forth from angry, bitter, jealous, vengeful hearts, and from hearts that are set on hatred, violence and destruction. From the blood of Abel killed by his brother to the blood of the Jews, the Armenians, the Ukrainians, the Irish, the Iranians and Iraqis, the Palestinians, the South Africans and the countless nations and ethnic groups victimized by the evil intentions of their sisters and brothers in the human race, blood has been covering the earth, and cries have gone up to heaven: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken us?”

*****

“Let the blood and water that flow from your heart give me a new heart to live a new life. I know that in this world water and blood will never be separated. There will be peace and anguish, joy and tears, love and agony. They will be there always—together—leading me daily closer to you who give your heart to my heart.”

– Henri Nouwen