Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Katie Snipes Lancaster

Scripture
Are any among you suffering?
They should pray.
Are any cheerful?
They should sing songs of praise.
James 5:13

A Look at Joy
Cold air can be painful if you aren’t wearing enough warm clothes. But when you’re feeling overheated or walking outside with proper clothing, the bracing sensation of cold air can be a source of feeling joy and aliveness. Suffering isn’t some kind of external, objective source of oppression and pain. There might be things that cause you to suffer, such as loud music or bright lights, which may bring other people joy. There are things that bring you joy that annoy other people. The rainy day that ruins your plans for a picnic is a boon for the farmer whose field is parched.

Happiness is possible right now today—but happiness cannot be without suffering. Some people might think that in order to be happy they must avoid all suffering, so they are constantly vigilant, constantly worrying. They end up sacrificing all their spontaneity, freedom, and joy. This isn’t correct. If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time.

Some say that suffering is only an illusion or that to live wisely we have to “transcend” both suffering and joy. I say the opposite. The way to suffer well and be happy is to stay in touch with what is actually going on; in doing so, you will gain liberating insights into the true nature of suffering and joy.

(Excerpted from Thich Nhat Hanh, “No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering” 2014)

Prayer
Lord of this impossible dance,
may we embrace what is hard,
not running away,
but discovering instead,
through the pain,
that we can yet embrace joy
within this moment.
Amen.