When my council of friends was concluding our reflection on guilt--and in the journey some significant deliverance from it--Lisa from Ireland emailed me and asked if maybe after the new year we could explore the concept of suffering in the same way. I agreed and starting meditating on suffering.
Toward the end of December a significant chain of events led to major changes in my life. In the culture in which I live, there is a lot of violence. Someone new to the area commented that the judge is too free with handing out restraining orders. I disagree. Having conversed with quite a few of the people who have asked for restraining orders as well as those who have had restraining orders against them, I would observe that they seem to have been served fairly.
Avoiding the back story (I still can't talk of it easily), I will say that a woman who has hatred for me went from stonily glaring at me every time she saw me to unrestrained public verbal attacks, not only on me but also on other of my family members. These attacks have happened both at church and at the only grocery store (currently) in town. My understanding is that we have reason to get a restraining order. However, we don't feel free to take her to court, nor to make any more trouble in her life than she is already making for herself. Nevertheless, we still feel a need to avoid needlessly placing ourselves in danger.
This has led to significant lifestyle changes. It has also led to a spiritual struggle with anger and fear. Summarizing hours and days of internal battle, I can truthfully say that the Lord has given us the ability to love her and care about her well-being. He has also given us the ability to be wise and avoid unnecessary provocation. All this is very humbling. Humiliating even.
So I didn't write about suffering when the new year started.
Because I was so shattered.
Then I was going to make it the subject of thought during Lent. Well, Lent is well underway, and nothing has been written.
This morning I have worked out and and listened to podcasts and watched vlogs and started dinner. I folded laundry and put it away.
And there is no avoiding it any longer.
What is suffering? Why do we suffer? What good is it? or is it evil? How can we suffer well? How can we suffer badly? What is the worst kind of suffering?
Touched by this Poem that was read on Sunday before communion - Before I take the body of my Lord Before I share his life in bread and wine I recognize the sorry things within These I lay down The words of hope I often ...
1 year ago