March 29, 2011: “Sacrament of Pain”

Today’s Good News is courtesy of Thomas R. Kelly, the Quaker writer, teacher, philosopher (1893-1941).

Your response to the following passage might very well be: “You call this good news? What planet are you from?”

OK, call me crazy—but I find  Kelly’s words, written after visiting Germany in 1938, enormously comforting:

“An awful solemnity is upon the earth, for the last vestige of earthly security is gone. It has always been gone, and religion has always said so, but we haven’t believed it. . . There is an inexorable amount of suffering in all life, blind, aching, unremovable, not new but only terribly intensified in these days.

“One come back from Europe aghast at having seen how lives as graciously cultured as ours, but self-deluded by a mild veneer of religious respectability but unprepared by the amazing life of commitment to the Eternal in holy obedience, are now doomed to hopeless, hopeless despair. For if you will accept as normal life only what you can understand, then you will try only to expel the dull, dead weight of destiny, of inevitable suffering which is part of normal life, and never come to terms with it or fit your soul to the collar and bear the burden of your suffering which must be borne by you, or enter the divine education and drastic discipline of sorrow, or rise radiant in the sacrament of pain.”

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1 Comment

  1. I feel this is deeply true in some sense, and I guess I know a little about how to “come to terms with” suffering through daily practice, but that’s so much work, or in such competition with whatever else I’m doing which is a more immediate priority.

    No shortcuts, huh?

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