In the last four posts I’ve been thinking about suffering and hope – ways to listen better to the suffering of others, how sharing brings the beginning of hope, the need to be thoughtfully positive, and how to offering practical hopefulness.
It does work.
Darren’s been coming to see me for a while now. He is still alive. He still mostly rants, and I still mostly listen, but there’s less booze and fewer fights in his life. He’s got a girlfriend and a dog, and his drumming skills have found outlet in two local bands – one with a possible recording contract. We’re both beginning to feel more hopeful.
To be able to offer hope to people in distress, we need to take good care of ourselves.
With the frequent pressures we find in our own lives, whether its hassles within our families or problems in work – or an awareness of our own frailty and mortality in the face of traumatic accident or life-threatening disease – when we find ourselves trudging through treacle, we do well to recognize our own suffering and give ourselves the freedom to hope.
I’ve written before about how helpful it can be to create a well-being recipe, where you write down a list of all the ingredients of life that help you flourish, and then use them to build up something positive when you’re feeling down or harassed.
It’s good to refresh the ingredients from time to time. Ironing shirts is still on my list, but I’ve added in mindfulness meditation, and parkruns are now part of my own well-being recipe.
And it is great to have fresh starts, to try out new experiences we’ve never had before. And what could be fresher than meeting my brand new grandson Heath, born just a few days ago – welcome into the world!
For Heath, and for everyone: in those times when life gets tough and you’re suffering, I can’t offer you better words of hope than these, from Irish poet John O’Donoghue:
"On the day when the weight deadens on your shoulders and you stumble, may the clay dance to balance you.
And when your eyes freeze behind the grey window and the ghost of loss gets in to you, may a flock of colours, indigo, red, green, and azure blue come to awaken in you a meadow of delight.
And so may a slow wind work these words of love around you, an invisible cloak to mind your life."