[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
We may drink from a profound well of heart if we choose to happily suffer. You might do so by joyfully providing uncomfortable or painful service to another, perhaps as a parent to your child. You might choose to view all the world with gratitude during illness. In the most blessed circumstance, you will happily suffer whatever befalls you by continuing the connection to the Divine you uncovered in prayer or meditation.
To happily suffer is not a contradiction. In a youthful understanding, happiness might seem the same thing as freedom from pain, sorrow, and anger. As we mature, though, we acknowledge that there is no light without dark, no good without bad, no life without death. Then, even as we grieve or rage, we might come to a point where the duality of time and the Divine is nearly dissolved. That dissolution is the opening of the well of heart.
Let my suffering alleviate the suffering of others. Let me carry the wounds and burdens for others.
A physical illness is perhaps the most common way we are called home. There is wisdom in acknowledging that physical illness is the last manifestation of a blockage in heart and mind, but that wisdom is more of the world than of spirit. Wiser still is the one who can happily suffer illness. It will ease your heart during physical illness to offer your physical frame as a vehicle for all suffering. In the stillness and silence within, ask that the burden of suffering for all beings be lightened through your carrying of suffering of the illness. Ask that your illness serve a divine purpose, and when you feel the flush of that request being granted, your suffering will be transformed.
Let me perceive spirit in all beings. May I have wisdom and compassion enough to serve the Divine in all.
Servitude is another way we are called home, but servitude can be of a lowly hierarchical aspect. The difference between base and noble servitude lies in the offering: offer your service and yourself to a creature, and you are degraded. Offer your service and yourself to the Divine, and you are ennobled. Outwardly there may be no difference, for the Beloved – call Him Christ or what you will – lives in all beings. We serve Him by serving others.
But both illness and servitude are of an upward direction – your mind and body, the creature, reaching upward. While we gaze at the mirror and beseech the mirror to gaze back at us, we merely open pinpricks in the veil. We merely loosen the cap on the well of heart. Although that is profound and miraculous, there is yet more. You are a manifestation of eternity in time, an instance of embodied divinity. You can look the other way, look downward as the consciousness regarding the creature. This is a sublime gift of meditation and mindfulness.
May I be free of all clinging to the illusions of shifting form. Let my mind dwell in holy stillness and silence.
In the seat of eternity, we cannot fail to be happy. The ground of consciousness is love. No turmoils of mind and body can contaminate or pass the veil. When suffering is distanced by perspective, when it is known that the cycle of wounded flesh and shredded mind is being had only by the most transient and illusory part of self, to happily suffer is the only way. Even in grief, even unto death, no arrow can pierce your essence. No fire can burn that most real part of yourself. Knowing that is gratitude even when the lessons of the Beloved are painful. Knowing that is freedom even when imprisoned, it is love even when hopeless, it is beauty even in blindness.
May all beings uncover the jewel of enlightenment.
Let us whisper into our hearts, toward the Beloved’s ear in us, asking for the grace to happily suffer so long as any being suffers.