As we make our way towards Holy Week, things are going to get a bit tougher. As a priest and pastor I am always amazed by how much happens in people’s lives in these last weeks of Lent and in Holy Week. Marriages break, relationships strain, grievances grind, envy envelopes, loss amplifies. Suffering abounds and the sufferers enter into that black sludge we call sadness, only to find it grabs them like tar in a tar pit.
Suffering is such a hard thing. When one is in it there seems to be nothing ahead or behind – no Christmas and no Easter. And it is like the bee sting I received yesterday from peeking into one of our bee hives up on the cathedral roof (I like to go say “hi” to them as spring warms their boxes and they begin to emerge into a new life). The sting is hard and big and red. And tomorrow it will be itchy but less hard, less red. And then the next day less hard and less itchy and so on. So too with suffering. It can lessen in its intensity.
The thing to do is connect. Find people you can connect to and go ahead – connect. Tell them the story of your suffering and let them tell you theirs. This exchange is the only way forward. Sadness, grief, betrayal, loss – whatever suffering you feel needs to be brought out into the light. When we discuss these sufferings with those we love they become less oily, less sticky. They ease. And slowly, like the bee sting, they lessen and lessen until finally there is that one flash of joy which springs forth like a beautiful bright yellow crocus in Lent, infuriating the colorless season with mischievous sprouts of joyful rebellion.