Suffering is the kiss of Jesus… —Mother Teresa of Calcutta
It was while I was caring for my dying mother that I really began to understand how crucial suffering is to the humanity of our lives. In today’s Episcopal Relief & Development Lenten meditation, Erik Law recounts Peter’s unwillingness to accept Jesus’ sacrifice. In doing so, he took me straight to the emotions I experienced as I watched the untold suffering of my mother. I, like Peter, simply could not see why such suffering was necessary, why it should be allowed, or how it could possibly be some kind of “divine thing.” Like Peter, I didn’t want a person I loved to suffer, nor did I want to suffer myself.
In his reflection, Erik mentioned how quickly we seek to turn away from danger and suffering. It makes logical sense, after all. Who would not choose happy and easy times over pain that can surge so relentlessly through us that we are left feeling like a wrung- out dishrag? Still, if we can muster the courage to follow Jesus’ words, to “set our minds on divine things,” we find, tucked in the hidden corners of the suffering, the fullness of pulsing and potent grace.
As I watched suffering unfold before me in my mother’s body, and as I experienced my own deep grief and anguish at her death, I wanted to scream, “No!! Enough already! Give me back my mother; give me back my regular, predictable, usually happy life!” Still, quietly, in the closed pockets of my soul I began to sense some movement, some change going on. I began to touch my own humanness. I began to see that much of my “happy, regular” life was its own kind of prison. When the suffering refused to abate, I was surprised to find those closed pockets slowly opening. I saw that suffering had become a gift. Yes, a gift. It was a key that would unlock my prison door and resurrect my spirit from the complacency of dull routine and inattention – to life and God’s deep yearning for me.
The Rev. Canon Renée Miller is a writer, poet, priest, entrepreneur, long-distance truck driver and CREDO faculty member. A co-author of the 2012 Lenten Meditations by Episcopal Relief & Development, she blogs at www.soulandsage.com.
Photo courtesy of Renée Miller.