In my post “Releasing Reality,” I referred to Anthony de Mello’s counsel to let our suffering end our suffering. How does that work?
Suffering reveals my siren gods. It reveals the alluring attachments that toss me about. Suffering helps me notice when I’m either lamenting their loss, trying to hold on to them, or striving to get more.
Richard Rohr defines suffering as “whenever you are not in control.” We suffer when we can’t control getting or keeping what we think we need to make us happy.
I found it helpful to use de Mello’s statement, which is in the story I quoted in that post, as a fill in the blank: “Unless I have _____, I won’t be happy. Using a previous post “Tossed About” as an example, I could say, “Unless I feel calm, I can’t be happy.” I could also say, “Unless I feel good about myself, I can’t be happy.”
When I notice and name what has me in its spell, I begin to see that requiring this to be happy is an illusion. All I need is right here. God, who loves to give good gifts, gives me everything I need in abundance.
Listen to the words of one who knows and speaks of this reality.
Psalm 16 Conserva me, Domine (Grail version, adapted)
Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord: “You are my God.
My happiness lies in you alone.”
You have put into my heart a marvelous love.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup;
it is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight:
welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me!
I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel,
who even at night directs my heart.
I keep you ever in my sight:
since you are at my right hand, I shall stand firm.
And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead,
nor let your beloved know decay.
You will show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness for ever.
We too can say: “You are my God. My happiness lies in you alone.” We can say this because it’s true–even while we crave what the sirens are offering.
On the surface of my soul, standing in my boat, seeing only a black, empty ocean, it’s hard to believe there’s an abundance of fish down there. But I have been asked to put out into deep water before and have known times when my boat was filled to overflowing. Silence has taken my hand and opened my eyes to the love right in front of me. Moment by moment, if I wait, I will behold the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. I will see a fish breaking the surface of my disbelief and awakening me to a deeper knowing.
It’s true: God, you are showing me the path of life; there is fullness of joy in your presence right here, right now.
When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
–Psalm 17:15 (NRSV)
* * *
Listen to the lyrical love mischief of Coco Love Alcorn:
Water heal my body
Water heal my soul
When I go down, down
To the water
By the water I feel whole.
Guaranteed, you’re going to be singing it all day… and feeling wonderfully heard and whole.
Credits and References:
“Ulysses and the Sirens” by Herbert James Draper (1863-1920) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
2 Peter 1:3, Matthew 7:9-11, Luke 5:1-11, Psalm 27:13
The Naked Now by Richard Rohr,p. 123
Awareness by Anthony De Mello, p. 141-145
© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim, 2018.
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© Esther Hizsa, An Everyday Pilgrim 2013-2018. http://www.estherhizsa.com