I recently found out that one of my students is very sick, and while I won't go into details, I have been very confused and stricken on his behalf, thinking of the hard road that lies ahead of him. I watched him struggling today, and was so sad for him, and so overwhelmed by the seeming senselessness of what he will have to handle. One of my friends is also going through a really awful time, and also in a way that I can't understand or help. Over the weekend I heard of 3 more people whom I know personally who are having severe and debilitating struggles with health. When I came home from work today, one of the girls I'm staying with (I moved out of my apartment last week) told me an awfully sad story. She is also a teacher, but at a different school. One of her students, a 16 year old boy, just hung himself. I just don't understand. None of this is happening directly to me, and yet I feel entirely undone, entirely unable to handle it or help with any of it. We read so much about suffering and pain, and we hear that prayer helps all things, and I suppose it will eventually, but I don't understand. I just don't get it. I know I'm not the first one to feel angry and powerless about it, and I don't have anything profound to say to make it make any sense or be any better. All of the theological explanations and philosophical justifications that might make it seem logically more sensible don't help with the fact that ultimately, when it comes down to the actual experience of it, it's awful and horrible and nothing we say or do makes us like it, or, worse yet, makes us like watching others go through it.
I stopped, when I began to be at peace.
The reason known but distantly, I raged
And cursed at our flightly human ease,
Always, only, ever, or merely staged.
I know, each hour I see another sink
To a fury of despair and sorrow,
This incensed soul is not the first to think
On unrest waiting for your Good Morrow
To quiet this lacerated longing
Of all your weary creatures. Fled from your
Gentle love, though to it still belonging,
We despise, ache, for entry of that door.
And will this restless strain be here, always,
And life seem more than a transient phase?
From a letter I received recently: " 'Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a great battle.' I find it amazing, and beautiful, that behind the eyes of the hundreds of people we may meet every day, behind the windshield of every car we pass on the highway, and on the other side of every window of every office building, there is a human person with his own family and his own history and his own consciousness, who may be rejoicing, or suffering deeply, and if we aren't sensitive and receptive we may never know it."