“I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable,” Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh knew suffering. Her first child was kidnapped when he was 18-months old and found dead two months later. Her husband, Charles Lindbergh, once lauded as a hero for making the first trans-Atlantic airplane flight, was later vilified as being pro-Nazi when he said he admired the German Air Force. Media scrutiny and ridicule forced the couple into hiding, and they moved to a small island off the coast of France. Eventually, they moved to a secluded town in Maui, where her husband died and is buried.
So how do allow suffering to mold us into someone who is kinder, more patient, and more loving?
• When we are suffering, we can meditate and, in the process, we can surrender our pain to a Higher Power.
• We can ask, “What can I learn from this experience?” rather that cry out, “Why am I suffering so!”
• We can remember that suffering, when endured well, helps us feel great compassion for others who are suffering.
• We can allow the wisdom we learn from our life’s journey to help us bless and strengthen others.
• When we feel overwhelmed with physical pain, grief, or sadness, we can let life to teach us lessons that we would not learn in any other condition.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh said, “If you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you live more richly those moments.” She seemed to draw on power of mindfulness instinctively as she found peace amid the sorrow of losing a son and later a husband to death.
In her book, Gift from Sea, Anne wrote, “Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid. And my shells? I can sweep them all into my pocket. They are only there to remind me that the sea recedes and returns eternally.”
In that book she also wrote, "The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach — waiting for a gift from the sea."
What has suffering taught you? How did you learn from it?
© Carol Brown