This blog is at its heart, a book. One that I had been reluctant to write. Suffering, however, chose me to write this book and I am now a willing recipient and graduate of the School of Suffering. The story begins this way:
As I am at heart a storyteller and a weaver of dreams, I thought that this would be an easy tale to recount because of the many forms of suffering that I have been called upon to endure since I collided with this world, hollering and screaming within the folds of my receiving blankets and identity tags and footprints capturing the early moments of my introduction to planet Earth. I had envisioned the impartation of wisdom and wit, tragedy and triumph, all rolled into one triumphant dissertation of victory to be relatively painless, so to speak. However, I had not known that there might be others riding along the outskirts of this journey in the form of mental hecklers hurling jibes and untruths with the intention of derailing this writing project from its inception.
From the onset of this writing, I have been assailed with thoughts and doubts, feelings and fears, and other mind games as I endeavored to bring to life on these pages the voice of suffering. These “others” turned out to be suffering’s counterfeits, not counterparts. You would not think that suffering would have its enemies and counterfeits. Indeed, suffering itself seems to be the world’s most reprehensible enemy. The truth be told, however, is that suffering has gotten a bad wrap. Suffering has been blamed for pain and hardship, and heartache that it had not caused at all. All because of its counterfeit.
This counterfeit counterpart that has been named suffering has camouflaged and taken on the very characteristics of suffering, and so, in turn, has caused much suffering in the world from the beginning of time until now. And because of a vow that I made to God at a very tender age, I was given the key of truth that freed suffering’s voice so that its truth of its message could be shared with the world. What is this truth? That truth is going to take a lifetime to reveal…and that life was mine, chosen before I entered this world to tell through the pages of my existence.
It was my life that made it possible for suffering to unearth its hidden mysteries for me. I say unearthed because suffering had to dig its pain deeply inside and burn its way upward until the agony compelled me to lay aside the apathy that had held me in its fierce and unrelenting grip throughout these many years of catastrophic loss and break the stranglehold of fear and I was finally able to hear the words that suffering had been shouting to me all along. For, suffering’s voice had been camouflaged by relentless heckling which went by the voices of pain, despair, anger, loneliness, and grief. I mistakenly believed that these jeerers and suffering were synonymous. Where I heard the one, I felt the other. Where I felt the other, I heard the same. I could not escape the torment. And that’s when suffering itself stepped in and howled, reaching down its enormous hand and ripped through the covering of my chest and pulled out the twisted and mangled, seething roots of betrayal, hardship, and grief that had been thriving there for over forty years of life.
Writhing in pain while gasping and grasping for life itself, I struggled to lift my head from among the soggy mass of sorrow in order to see what suffering was so wildly flailing. Eyes bleary from the blinding pain that roared through my ears and sloshed between my veins peered and vaguely made out the form of something held in palm of suffering’s hand before a tsunamic wave of suffering of holocaustic proportion hit me and I was left spluttering and floundering in the deep. Scarred fingers battered by pain clawed desperately through the turbulence, reacting with horror and the blind instinct of survival to twist through black, churning, foaming funnels of froth for the air sought and fought after that would enable me to reach the surface once more. As I prayed with one final plea to reach the top of this colossal wall of heartache that was surely intent on stripping me, finally, of life, suffering again reached down its hand into the murky depths of this latest wave of despair, plucked me up, and flung me face down upon hard earth.
Arms trembling from exhaustion and exertion pulled my inert body towards the trunk of a gnarled and twisted oak aged by wind and surf. Shrill cries, screeching from gulls overhead competed with the roar of water for a place of prominence within my ears as I strained to recall the words of suffering before the tide pulled them out of reach. Simultaneously, my eye’s corner caught the gleam of an object peeking out of the sooty sand that dressed the desolate panacea spread out before me. As I stretched forth my hand, my fingers shaped themselves around the lip of a cup, and with a tug, it was within my grasp. Although I had never seen this cup before, the familiarity of its weight and size assured me that I had, indeed, tasted of its content many times before. It was simply the passage of time that had changed its features numerous times, yet its size and shape remained the same.
Momentarily forgetting the message that suffering had been vainly trying to impart within me, I contemplated the significance of the cup. Suddenly there was deafening silence. Too late, I realized that someone had been trying to tell me something that I knew instinctively held the key to my freedom. In desperation, I raced toward the receding surf and shouted into razor-sharpened winds, “WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME?” The hairs on the back of my neck stood ramrod stiff as I heard an eerie chuckle. “Have no fear, my brave one. For I shall return. And when I return, you shall be mine.” The heckling chuckles became shrieks with joined with the wind and chased me as fear grew wings on my feet as I raced towards a destination that had no end.
The cup had been left behind.