Friday, November 19, 2010

The Stewardship of Pain

You probably have a book, or poem, letter or picture you sometimes review to keep your focus on what is important in your life.

I would like to share this missile with universal meaning. These are excerpts from a sermon by Fredrick Buchner, whose "many books include the critically acclaimed The Sacred Journey, Whistling in the Dark, and Godric, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times has called Fred Buechner the finest religious writer in America."  (Source: 30 Good Minutes)

The Physician, Pablo Ruiz (Ciencia Y Caridad, Barcelona, 1816-1897)

Someone once said to Buchner:

"You have had a fair amount of pain in your life, like everybody else. You have been a good steward of it."
That phrase caught me absolutely off guard -- to be a steward of your pain. I didn't hear it as a compliment particularly. It is not as if I had set out to be a steward of my pain, but rather something that happened.
I thought a lot about what the stewardship of pain means; the ways in which we deal with pain. Beside being a steward of it, there are alternatives. The most tempting is to forget it, to hide it, to cover it over, to pretend it never happened, because it is too hard to deal with.
Buechner goes on...
Stewardship of pain. What does that mean? I have thought a lot about it. I think it means, before anything else, to keep in touch with your pain, to keep in touch with the sad times, with the hard times of your past for many reasons. I think it is often those times when we were most alive, when we were somehow closest to being most vitally human beings. 
Keep in touch with it because it is at those moments of pain where you are most open to the pain of other people -- most open to your own deep places. Keep in touch with those sad times because it is then that you are most aware of your own powerlessness, crushed in a way by what is happening to you, but also most aware of God's power to pull you through it, to be with you in it. Keeping in touch with your pain, I think, means also to be true to who in your depths you have it in you to be -- depths of pain and also in a way depths of joy, because they both come from the same place.
Pain can become a treasure if we treasure it to the point where it can become compassion and healing, not just for ourselves, but also for other people. If you want to see that sort of thing in operation, the treasuring of pain, the using of pain to the healing of yourself and others, someday attend an open meeting of AA or any of the related groups. That is exactly what those people are doing, sharing their hurts, their experiences and their joys.
And remember the cross. It seems to me that the cross of Christ in a way speaks somewhat like this same word, saying that out of that greatest pain endured in love and faithfulness, comes the greatest beauty and our greatest hope.
Read the entire writing of Fredrick Buchner here at 30 Good Minutes.  It is good to remember.

Better yet, listen to his sermon on your computer by clicking on his recording back in 1992.  It can be found at the top of the website.  His voice is comforting yet authoritative.

1 comment:

  1. Love Buechner, have a lot of his books.  Thanks for the link!


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