Wednesday, 25 June 2008


This is a quote from the catholic writer Leon Bloy: 'Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist, and into them enters suffering in order that they may have existence.' That thought is interesting, I find. On a good day I think that it is true. On a bad day I'm not so sure. After all, many people are not improved by suffering. Some people suffer and as a result they finish up mean, small, frightened, bitter. I am perhaps more interested in what R S Thomas (my favourite poet) has to say in his poem The Unvanquished: 'But you / who are not free to choose / what you suffer can choose / your response.' To me, that is a key statement. There is always that choice. And actually that choice is the one thing which we all possess and which no-one can ever take from us. It is the final freedom. I also like what the Quakers say about suffering. They do not think there is any point in discussing why there is so much suffering. Instead the important question is - What are we going to do with suffering? Again it is a choice, isn't it? Either we allow suffering to make us into small, mean people (as I'm doing at the moment) or we allow it to open new places in our hearts. Finally we have to chose the latter. Give me a few weeks and perhaps I'll get there.


Honey said...

ah a small mean person are you? where have you been hiding her? I see warm generous caring but I obviously have my pink shades on.
I hate the idea that to grow we must suffer, but I take comfort in the idea that through suffering we can grow.

Z said...

I have met, through her blog, a friend who has cancer and has recently had better results from a test than she would ever have dared to hope for. Comments from her friends say 'God is good! He has answered prayers! You have received the good news you deserve!" I have resisted the impulse to ask where that leaves the good, deserving person who has received bad news, because that would be unkind - and I'm a Christian myself.

But I'm with Thomas and the Quakers - if there's anything in a religion, it helps you to choose your response and cope with your suffering. Grief and mourning are not small or mean. They are inevitable in the face of tragedy. What sort of person would you be if you did not care? Even in recovery there is mourning - letting go can feel like a betrayal - but you will recover because you should and there is much to be glad about. I hope you can remind yourself of that.

Tash said...

My one hope is someday, when I'm old, I'll meet someone at a cocktail party and they'll think: "Ah, now I understand how she got through that." Not: "Ah, now I understand her."

I certainly don't think I'm making very good choices. And not for nothing, I don't think making choices necessitates us being martyrs. But there is a line there, isn't there.