Friday, 29 April 2011

Valuing Suffering

It is natural that we should want to avoid suffering, if we can.  It hurts!  Yes, there are many positive things we can say about it - though that probably is not true of all contexts.  However, even when there is a positive side, the likelihood is that we would rather avoid it.

In Speaking of Faith (Penguin, 2007), Krista Tippett offers some interesting - and challenging - reflections on this theme when she refers to an encounter with the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh - "When we are attentive to our own suffering .. we will know that of others.  That knowledge can help break cycles of suffering and violence in the world around us."  She further comments: "He could not imagine the kingdom of God to be a place without suffering .... For how, then, would we learn to be compassionate?" (p. 228/9)

I happen to be writing this on the day of the royal wedding.  Amid much joy and ceremony - and massive TV coverage - Prince William and Kate Middleton have married in Westminster Abbey, emerging as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  It has rightly been a day of great celebration in the UK.

Celebration and suffering do co-exist, rightly so, and we do well to recognise that.

No comments: