Happiness! We want to be happy, but suffering keeps intruding.
Thinking we can be happy by ignoring suffering
is like sinking into a spy novel
while the person sitting next to us,
whose arm is in a sling,
has spilled yogurt all over his shoes and he
can do nothing to clean it up.
We call for help and no one is answering.
Frustrated and impatient, we reluctantly
set aside the engrossing book, and look for someone
who will clean up the mess.
Embarrassed, our seat mate seeks to look away while
drawing his feet further under the chair so no one can see
the suffering of one whose best efforts have only led to
further his pain.
Someone puts some wet paper towels in our hand.
“I don’t get out much since my stroke. I find it
hard to walk and harder still to explain my needs. I have a
tear in my rotator cuff,” as he looks at his sling.
We hesitantly share that we are going through
physical therapy treatments and we have
challenges with neuropathy, making our walking
unsteady and fearful at times.
He looks at the towels. We ask, “May I?”
Could it be that our happiness has something to do
with connecting to our own suffering
and the suffering of one another?
Could it be that this is the healing the world needs?
(Original poem based on a story by Dr. Rachel Remen)