Maybe it’s the humid weather, but my back is starting to give me trouble again. I really don’t look forward to the predictable routine that comes as I put off the next round of injections as long as possible. First, my exercise walks get shorter and shorter. Then I start sitting down during certain parts of the mass when I can. Then I begin to sit during sung Lauds (morning prayer) while my brothers are all standing, and the “Benedictus Club” starts to become a focal point of my life again. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it reminds me that there are all these millions of people who are suffering with pain a hundred times worse than mine. (Click here if you want to find out more about the “Benedictus Club” from a previous posting of mine.)
“I UNDERSTAND IT BUT I DON’T FEEL IT”
I met a woman the other day who just started telling me her troubles – many of them having to do with loved ones dying – and explained that she understood the Christian position on the mystery of suffering. “I understand it, but I don’t feel it” she said. It seemed to me that hers was a pretty good description of what it’s like to lack the gift of faith. Yet she keeps going to work every day as a nurse in a hospital and having patients die in her arms as she puts it. And she works hard on her relationship with her husband who is a recovering alcoholic. And she comes across as a reasonably happy person.
Listening to her made me appreciate the precious gift that I have: the conviction that in and through Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection my own suffering takes on a meaning. I can’t understand that intellectually, but that’s the gift. That woman I met said about the Christian position on suffering “I understand it, but I don’t feel it.” For myself when I’m faced with the mystery of suffering I say that “I don’t understand how this works, but my heart tells me that ultimately it does.”