“There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” Carl Jung
“The attempt to avoid legitimate suffering lies at the root of all emotional illness.” M. Scott Peck
“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Viktor Frankl
“Immediately after my niece Claire was born she began to quietly moan–continuously. The doctors and nurses looked her over, put her under a lamp and examined her. After several moments when she would not stop moaning and whimpering, the nurse said, ‘She’s lamenting.’ They actually have a medical term that explains this phenomenon–’lamenting.’ Clair was in mild distress. She was mourning. Exiting the body of her mother was no easy thing for this little one. She was mourning the familiarity and comfort of the womb. But leaving existence in the womb was absolutely critical to living the life of baby Claire. It’s absurd to imagine a baby never leaving the womb. To live and grow into the fullness of who we are, we must move on no matter how painful and distressing it may seem at the moment. Death in varied forms is necessary. . . . witnessing the birth of a baby! There’s nothing like it! It’s magnificent! But like Claire reminded me, the beauty of her birth required lamentation. . . . And the caterpillar–can you imagine its experience in the chrysalis? The throngs of people visiting the Butterfly pavilion at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo demonstrate our fascination and intrigue with the process of distress these creatures go through–and indispensable anguish to becoming their astonishingly exquisite self.” Phileena Heuertz
“I would rather be strangled—
rather die than suffer like this.”
Job 7:15 NLT
Moving From The Head to The Heart
- Waiting in limbo for a future that is neither known nor understood will involve anguish. Are you in limbo now? . . . suffering anguish (fear, confusion, disorientation)?
- Can you give yourself permission to lament what you have lost (what was, what might have been) instead of forcing yourself to be “strong?” . . . rather than attempting “to avoid legitimate suffering?”
- Can you trust your anguish to be “indispensable” (necessary, and full of purpose and meaning)? . . . used by God to create your “astonishingly exquisite self?”
Abba, like with Job, sometimes the suffering seems unbearable. Help me experience it as inevitable–as necessary, and choose it as useful–and even as a divine gift in disguise.
For More: Pilgrimage Of a Soul by Phileena Heuertz
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“I entered I knew not where,
and there I stood not knowing:
nothing left to know.”
John of the Cross
“Nature is a metaphor of our inner life. Thus in our psyches we can expect a tormenting desertlike time in which nothing seems to be moving or growing in us. Such a torturous void is the unlit era in life when exuberance is gone, when nothing seems to succeed in reviving or renewing us, when things do not improve no matter how much effort we expend, when our spiritual practices become flat and uncomforting. This is the ruthless shadow side of our psychic world, a wilderness with no visible horizon of relief. . . . It must be legitimate and even useful to be fully clear and happy at times and at other times to be unhappy and in the dark. . . . We are nourished by light and dark. The spiritual style is to find a way to say yes mindfully to both. Distressing voids are thus challenges to stay with ourselves. . . . Mindfulness is a practice of attending and staying. Mindful presence in the void happens when (1) we pay attention to what is with no attempt to understand it and (2) when we stay in it with no attempt to end it. If we simply stay with the experience of the void, something eventually opens in it and us. What is born from our yes to the void is not emptiness but spaciousness . . . (3) We say yes to the silent dark and it reveals itself as a necessary—even kindly—oasis in our inner landscape. (4) We no longer seek things or people to rescue us. Eventually the space becomes as significant and as supportive as the things or persons who were supposed to fill it.” David Richo **
“May the day of my birth perish,
and the night that said, ‘A boy is conceived!’
That day—may it turn to darkness;
may God above not care about it;
may no light shine on it.
May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more;
may a cloud settle over it;
may blackness overwhelm it.
That night—may thick darkness seize it;
may it not be included among the days of the year
nor be entered in any of the months.
May that night be barren;
may no shout of joy be heard in it.”
Job 3:3-7 NIV
Moving From Head to Heart
- Do you have a spiritual technology for desperately dark times between a past “normal” and some painfully elusive “new normal”?
- Will you insist on having understanding and exerting control in that space?
- Can you imagine simply “accepting the things you cannot change” – and trusting that the confusing darkness and disorientation can be a “necessary–even kindly”, unexpected path to a better place? . . . even as a nation?
Help Yahweh! In the unbearable Pain! In the Distress! The Confusion! The Despair!
For more: The Five Things We Cannot Change . . . by David Richo
** Numbers in the text [e.g. (1) ] are my glosses.