There are sufferings that are unwelcome and that we must resist, root out, and seek to supplant. But there are other sufferings that, though unwelcome, we must seek to embrace. These sufferings are not good; no suffering is good in itself. They are not enjoyable or easy to carry (let alone understand). These are not sufferings to be sought out; they visit in the ordinary course of living. And these sufferings are always intrusive and life-altering, sometimes expected and sometimes not.
Why would anyone choose to suffer when there are avenues of escape, when one can choose an easier path? Why would one choose to welcome and to receive the events that cause such deep pain? Wouldn't it be better to seek to remove them until all that is left is light?
We can avoid suffering by refusing to love well. We can avoid suffering by failing to care for those who need our love. We can avoid suffering--at least for a time--by isolating and refusing the path of dependence. But the irony of avoiding this suffering is that it leaves one without love, without others to care for, without those who provide one with the opportunity to love and be loved. Choosing to suffer in these times is a sign, an indication of something deeper, something good, something worth pursuing, something worth upholding, someone worth valuing.
We suffer because we choose to love. We suffer because the ones we love need our care. We suffer because of our dependence upon others. And we must choose this suffering. Much of life is an attempt to distinguish between those sufferings that we ought to try to weed out of the soil of our lives and those sufferings that are seeds that might bear fruit. By seeking to eradicate suffering, to eliminate those who suffer, to bury that which makes us dependent, we find ourselves withering. Only one choice bears fruit. ~Aaron Cobb, Loving Samuel, pp. 23-4.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
It's been a rough couple weeks since the death of my niece, Maria Borland, but not nearly the hell for me that it has been for my brother, Tristan, and his wife, Jill. I always looked forward to seeing Maria, partly because I had the distinct honor of having her Barbie named after me, "Uncle Tully." She loved men--men with beards, and especially her daddy and a farmer named Chaz (a man's man and apparently a princess's man as well). She was ornery and a bit of a loner; my kind of person. She was also loving and one of a kind. She will forever be missed.