March 12
Those who have suffered
understand suffering and
therefore extend their hand.

Patti Smith


Today's Meditation:

When I consider the suffering that I've gone through, it seems minor in retrospect.  When I compare it to the things that other people have suffered, my suffering seems to be almost insignificant, but that's only because I'm looking at it from the present, and it's there in the past.  How it seems now should not take away the strength of its reality--my suffering has been very real, and it's affected me very strongly and deeply.  I've suffered through the very real pain of depression, and I've suffered through other things that are probably better left unsaid.

In the long run, though, one thing that I know for sure is that my suffering has made me more compassionate, and when I see someone who's going through difficulties of their own, I'm able to look at their actions and words in different ways.  I'm able also to lend them a hand--or even just an ear--so that they might feel that they're not alone in this world, which is something that many suffering people feel.

At times when I'm able to help others in their suffering, I know that they suffering that I've gone through was worth it.  I never would know what to say, I never would know how to act, had I not gone through similar suffering myself.  Likewise, when I go through difficult times now, I remember that no matter how bad things get, I will be able to use what I learn through this new suffering sometime in the future to help someone else who's going through something similar.

None of our suffering is wasted.  It's difficult to get through, but it strengthens us and it allows us to be more compassionate and thus more helpful to others.  When we look at our suffering, it's important that we look not just at what we're going through and the ways it makes us feel, but also at what we're learning from it and how we may be able to use that knowledge one day.  We shouldn't seek out suffering just to make ourselves stronger, of course, but we should look for purpose when suffering does hit our lives.  For just as the runner has to push him or herself to the edge of endurance to improve running skills, sometimes we'll be pushed to the edge of our endurance for the sake of learning something very, very important.

Questions to consider:

Why do we generally look at any form of suffering as something negative in our lives?

Why is it easier to be compassionate with someone if we've gone through similar difficult situations?

How do you define suffering?  How has it touched you in your life?

For further thought:

Realize that your suffering has meaning and purpose.  It has
made you more compassionate to others' suffering.  You can
now use your pain to help others overcome suffering.

Susan Santucci


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