devastation — meaning in suffering . . . in pain?

Posted on March 15, 2007



An Ode to a “shattered heart and soul held together by habit and skin”*

Although the greatest of the many passions of my heart is family . . . this winter (a winter of my soul) brings separation / divorce number 2. Do I grip my greatest passion too tightly????? Do I have some “letting go” to do???? I’m sure I do . . . as always.

The first time, I was married for four years with one child. When she left my son and me, I cried many times daily for a year and weekly for the next ten years . . .

This time, I was married for 14 years with three children. Again, my children and I have been left. What does the future hold? What suffering? What pain? How long? Most important . . . how will the children fare? What will be their suffering? What will be their pain? How long?

The only thing I know is that I will be by their side as we walk through this dark night of the soul . . . this dark valley full of scary things . . .


But WHY . . . WHY . . . Why . . . why . . . . .?

“There comes a time when both body and soul

enter into such a vast darkness

that one loses light and consciousness

and knows nothing more of God’s intimacy.

At such a time, when the light in the lantern burns out

the beauty of the lantern can no longer be seen.

With longing and distress we are reminded of our nothingness.” (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

In medieval Christianity in the thirteenth century there lived a remarkable woman who was part of the Beguine movement, which allowed women an alternative lifestyle to that of either being married or being a nun. Mechtild of Magdeburg was a Beguine who moved from town to town and worked with the youth and the poor. She also kept a journal of her entire adult life.

If life were to remind me only of being a child of God . . . of my “somethingness“, I would become full of pride; no longer needing hope . . . falling from grace.

If life were to remind me only of my “nothingness“, I would be led into the deepest despair; losing hope . . . falling from grace.

If life . . . if grace were to continually remind me both of my “nothingness” AND my “somethingness” before the transcendent and the immanent, this fortunate yet humbled creature would be left with hope.

Wisdom and many other of life’s gifts only come wrapped in sorrow . . . in pain . . . in darkness . . .. How could I ask for . . . wish for . . . anything less in whatever form life (grace) chooses its delivery??????


“From suffering I have learned this: That whoever is sore wounded by love will never be made whole unless she embrace the very same love which wounded her.” (Mechtild of Magdeburg)

“Life without sorrow would be fool’s folly. That is why God Himself took this path, one of sorrow and pain. God shows us that it is still a wonderful, noble, and holy way.” (Mechtild of Magdeburg)


4:00 AM, as sleep again eludes me, please excuse me while I fall on my knees . . . cheeks glistening . . . shirt tear-stained . . . heart broken . . . body overflowing with sorrow . . . brain full of confusion . . . yet with hope.


Thanks and credit to Matthew Fox for these quotes in “One River, Many Wells” (pages 284-285)


*Bruce Cockburn lyrics: “Don’t Feel Your Touch”