My thoughts right now are moving around suffering. The trouble is not that suffering is; given that we have bodies and emotions, that seems inevitable. It’s that it’s so damnably distracting. In its teeth inner intellectual discourse vanishes. The quiet tenets of spiritual living don’t last much longer. And when, as in my case, the suffering includes hunger, illness, nausea, and some physical pain, the centre of the universe seems to melt into sickness. When your belly is sick and you can’t eat and you can’t sleep, there gets to be not much place to stand.
This isn’t about complaining. The phenomena are real and there’s not much to be done about them. They generally pass. If they get worse they will, and if I finally die, I will. It’s not about minding it, it’s about finding a way to walk mindfully through it. I absolutely believe that Jesus came, and died, and rose, to bring me home, but when the journey gets so arduous, how does one keep the destination in mind?
At times like this one really knows that the mind is part of the body, and that a sick body thinks differently than a well one, and given that I’ve devoted this blog to using the power of thought to approach God, where does this leave me? I suppose in a way it’s an extension of the topic I’ve been exploring in the last few entries, how does one think outside of one’s cultural/linguistic framework, taking it to how does one think outside of one’s physical matrix.
Maybe just reach outside of organized sequential thought for a metaphor:
Once there was a boy. His grandmother gave him a beautiful egg. “Take good care of it,” she said. “it’s alive.”
He took very good care of it. He kept it warm, and through all the travels and travails and joys and crashes of his life it was never damaged. Sometimes in the night he thought he heard a voice coming from inside it. “Break the shell so I can fly.” He looked at it then, at the appalling beauty of it, and thought that no one could, or should, inflict such damage on something so impossibly lovely. At other times he thought he felt a moving pressure inside it, something trying to spread its wings. “Break me,” it asked him, Or seemed to. He was an introspective and accountable man, very ready to understand and believe that everything he heard was conditioned by his own experience, both of himself and of life. Finally, as we all do, he became very old and ill. He kept the egg beside his bed, and at night, sick and in pain and unable to rest, he would light the lamp and hold the beautiful thing in his hands. “Now,” it seemed to call. “Now, before it’s too late.” “No,” he said, as he died. “The prison is too beautiful for me to free the prisoner.”
Kind of an extended metaphor, but there you go.