I drew this picture as part of my work to release the spirochetes of Lyme Disease. The spirochetes in the image are pink and yellow, like a rain behind the martini glass. Unfortunately, they're hard to see in this online image. For more about my experience of Lyme see Charlie's Blog.
Coming hard on the heels of a ducedly painful surgical recovery, the Lyme has me thinking about pain and suffering in the human experience. Seems like I've had more than my share over the years, for a 21st century USA woman, anyway. But my suffering has ultimately led me to great spiritual growth and a deep personal relationship with my gods, particularly with Charlie and my Creator.
Pain and suffering are an unavoidable part of living in the flesh. In balance with life's pleasures and joys, suffering is a great and wonderful teacher. The Christian mystics understood this. Andrew Harvey, in Teachings of the Christian Mystics, writes of the them, "There are no greater teachers of the purpose and alchemical power of suffering in any other mystical literature, because no other group of mystics have faced the necessity of ordeal with such unshrinking precision and so learned how to transmute agony into thanksgiving . . . "
Be the Christians as they may, our contemporary culture celebrates comfort and ease. We avoid suffering, even as we deny the ways in which we constantly suffer in the body—illness, obesity, sexual disability, cancers from toxins, poisoned food, to name a few—at the hands of the dominators. But avoidance and denial don't allow us the spiritual benefits of our physical pain. In our pain, we come to terms with the limitations of the flesh. We learn to love these difficult bodies. We reach out for spiritual strength. We become humble. We grow in compassion.
This is not to say that we should seek out pain and suffering. Our ordinary human experience will bring us plenty for our spiritual growth. Unnecessary pain is harmful. In fact, if our pain gets out of balance with pleasure and joy, then even the benefits of pain are cancelled out.
Still, pain and suffering have a place in human life and always will. Like every experience in my momentary time on this glorious earth, I will embrace my suffering, experience it fully, and transform it into a pathway to the gods of love.