Thursday, January 27, 2011

Brian’s Reflection: Friday, January 28, 2011

I believe there are more urgent and honorable
occupations than the incomparable waste of time
we call suffering.

Colette, French novelist and symbol; she was born
on this date, 1873; she was accorded a state funeral
despite the refusal of Catholic rites on the grounds
that she had been divorced. Her funeral was attended
by thousands of mourners.

A very old member of the Order of the Holy Cross once gave a children’s mission. Facing a pile of 6-8 year olds sitting on the floor, his opening line was, “Now children, what does God love most?” After a significant pause, he said in a loud, sepulchral whisper ….. “Suffering!!!”

Ye gods! Talk about being stuck in a sick theological time warp! I’ve often wondered how much money was spent by those children in later life on therapists.

Be that as it may, Suffering’s a given of human Life. And the more we live with the illusion that we can avoid suffering, the more painful Suffering will be. Take my word.

Colette is bang on. Suffering is not, must not, be an “occupation”. The Christian religion tried, for many centuries, to inflict it on us. Shame on it. The Buddha rightly noted that Suffering was a central experience of being Human ….. but He did not suggest that we make it an occupation …. to the contrary.

The givenness of Suffering is no excuse for a Life of wallowing in it. That is a way of “death”. The Gospel - and need I say with St. Paul, the very wonder and beauty of Being – is about Life. If Suffering snuffs out Life, it’s time to move on.

At best, Suffering leads to empathy, to compassion, to generosity, to Love - and if we are fortunate, to freedom. Now THERE'S a spiritual Journey!! I have a way to go!


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