Parker Palmer writes about the inevitability of heartbreak. However, he asks, will our hearts break into shards that are sharp and jagged and cause more pain, or will they break open, so that there is more capacity to hold the pain of ourselves and others — that is to allow for more compassion?
We should be slow to judge each other if we react to heartbreak or sorrow with anger, or seclusion, or any other strong difficult emotion. But the hope is that by attending to the pain of another we can be a part of the platform they will walk to find stability and hope to face the thing they must face.
We would hope that our friends would do the same for us. To be with us in the madness, the instability, the confusion — and throw us a line.
Pain and suffering are part of the fabric of life. We all know this from experience and we know that it is likely to be repeated. Perhaps we also know that our hope to survive, and thrive, and find life again lies in our willingness to lean into the pain.
Leaning in does not mean pretending it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean trying to be a hero. It means driving into the pain knowing we won’t park there forever, and that we will be open to the people and the graces that wait for us in that place of pain. Pain, suffering, darkness — all these are places where we may experience the deepest sense of love and connectedness to our companions in life. Just as we do when things are great. It’s ironic, and seems impossible. But the same heart-opening fullness can come to us in dark times, just as it does in times of joy. This is the gift of the eternal.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday to discuss our common experience of pain and suffering and to explore the possibilities.