Preamble

by cbcabeen on May 28, 2017

During service last Sunday, one of our ministers presented an imperative to name our suffering as a precondition for bringing it into community. It sounds fine in theory, except–

It’s so easy to confuse “What’s wrong?” with its evil twin, “What’s wrong with you?” I especially make this mistake when I’m talking to myself, trying to decide which suffering warrants a break and which I should slog through as a good parent and spouse. This month I’ve been thankful for hugs without questions and quiet healing.

It’s so easy to misname your suffering. Sometimes I find myself naming my suffering to stuff it safely in a box. Sometimes I prematurely name my problems after my demons and decide to keep them as pets, brush their fur, and bring them their favorite snacks. Sometimes it’s better to let suffering stay nameless and creative, as a kind of fruitful void.

Maybe it’s also easier to find the right name when there’s just one major thing that’s wrong, rather than a kaleidoscope of pieces informing each other: At the beginning of May we lost Ted’s brother (to death). The month before that, we also lost some great housemates (to Michigan), and I lost my sweety bird (to the unknown). Sibyl lost her two front teeth (to a dental procedure). I lost some of my good health (to bacteria and viruses and lack of sleep), and I lost some of my hopes about where our Earth-based spirituality group would be by now (to reality testing). You can surmise from the list that I was emotionally exhausted. But there’s also a chemistry between these losses that shapes what they mean in unpredictable ways, and in this case made me a little crazy. I half-convinced myself of things that would’ve been significant losses on their own–more on that a different time maybe. It’s the kind of craziness that happens when our inner worlds aren’t externalized or reflected outside ourselves…

Because, see, there’s this imperative to name our suffering, or somehow bring it out into the world.

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