It’s the sentiment that came to me this morning, the thought that woke me and insisted I turn toward the clock to see “4:42.” It was ridiculously early, and for the next 25 minutes I lay there in the quiet dark turning the sentiment over in my mind, watching it tumble amid the troubles sitting on my conscience, tumble like towels in a clothes dryer, a dryer moving in slow motion.
Life is hard.
A friend is staying with us for a while, working a new job that allows her to be closer to her sweet Muzy, a beautiful soul slipping slowly beneath the heavy cloak of dementia. There is great love and tenderness between these two women, mother and daughter, and as I went to bed last night my dear friend kissed her Mom in Atlanta and began the journey back here. It was late–as I said, I was already in bed–and in that difficult late-night dark with snow and freezing rain all around, she began the four-hour drive back. It is too much to bear, I thought. Too much to bear.
Life is hard.
Everywhere I turn, it seems, there is worry great and small: the threat of ISIS, and the beheading of a parade of Christians; the inability of the people of Boston to simply dig out before another great storm socks them in, this time even deeper; my sweet little aging dog, a torn ACL having rendered her back left leg unusable, her right leg then sprained.
Life is hard.
I was cooking a pot of chili on Sunday, a (joyfully) mundane task amid the trouble in the world, when I hit PLAY on Oprah’s Soul Series conversation with Father Richard Rohr. His name was not familiar to me, but I was captivated within three seconds. A Franciscan Priest, yes. But a more human human I don’t believe I have ever encountered. Yes I thought as he spoke. Yes. Yes. Yes. Amid many powerful and relevant points he talked about life’s difficulty, about the reality that we live in this world not in spite of but because of the great challenges. It’s how we learn, he said. It’s how our souls expand. It’s why we are alive.
It is what you do with suffering that matters, he said. You must learn from it. You must transform it. If you don’t, you will transmit it–to your family, your friends, your country.
At 5:02 I turned on the light and got up. I shuffled to the side porch, where I looked out to see Colleen’s car parked safely in our driveway. I made coffee and got back in bed, laptop open and Life is hard still on my mind. Two hours later I met her in the kitchen. My friend was awake, dressed, ready to head out the door to work.
I’m so happy you made it home okay. That drive must have been brutal I said.
It was long she said, pouring her coffee. And then she turned and smiled at me. I want to hear all about this weekend’s wedding she said. Who was there, what did you wear, every detail. I should be home by 6. And then she was off.
Life is hard, I thought, watching her go. And so we move through it, doing the best we can. Sometimes we transform suffering and aren’t even aware because the beautiful lesson is for someone standing by–a friend or loved one or stranger touched in a profound way by our example, a lesson in grace and generosity that makes someone else’s soul expand.
It’s what happened to me this morning. I thank you, dear friend.
*Above is a link to a portion of the show. It is well worth a watch.
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What we do with our suffering really touched me. My best friend since kindergarten is living with mets cancer. She continues to work as a nursing dean and influence young nurses rather than retire. How I admire her.
What strength she has. Thanks for sharing this, Alice. I will add her to my prayer list.
Cathy, this really resonated this morning. Will remember these words and also a good reminder for me to subscribe to Oprah’s soul series.
Yes–so much to learn from her conversations! Thank you, Jill.
You wrote something similar to another of your Wise friends emailed me a monthh ago. Thank you. But the wisdom of you and her make me know I am not alone.
Thank you, Rosie!
Cathy, You write so well. This one really strikes home and I’m going to have to go listen to the link. Thank you! – Mary
Thank you, Mary. I am honored you are a Daily Grace reader–I have learned so much from you!
“We are taught that suffering is one promise that life always keeps. So that when happiness comes we know it is a gift, and it is ours only for a brief time.”
Yes! So true. Thank you, dear Meg!