My friend dropped the comment into our conversation almost as an afterthought and I felt the truth of it plop down into my spirit like a small pebble into a deep lake, the ripples going out and out and out.
How perfectly put. How much we register this truth in ourselves even though little mentioned or turned towards.
I know when my young children aren’t seriously hurt because they make an enormous fuss. The moment I truly worry is when they are brave, and come to me with solemn faces saying quietly, “Mummy, I hurt myself.”
Our deepest pain is the one we can’t just talk about. Even to ourselves. So we pile it all into a trunk, cram it in, close the lid and hope to throw the key away far enough that it will never be found.
We bury it because we can’t kill it. We can only bury it alive.
With the deepest grief, after cathartic wailing and public lament, we are left simply with grief itself. Unchangeable immovable grief. And we are alone. Like sitting in an empty Norman church in the English countryside on a Sunday afternoon with the sun slanting through stained glass hitting the pew in front of us.
Light is visible, but it’s not on us.
We flee silence, because in the silence we can hear the quiet reality of pain. Nothing to distract us or smother it with noise.
Or we seek silence. The relief of being present to it but not having to say or do anything about it to put others at ease.
We know our own true pain. Is it possible to hear one another’s?
Only if we are quiet too. Only if we can settle ourselves to say nothing but sit and stay present to the relentlessness of it.
How often am I prepared to let the quiet of true pain present itself to me – either in myself or someone near. To listen to its quiet, knowing there is nothing I can say to change it. That there is simply value in keeping company beside it. To look knowingly into each other’s eyes, stay quiet and stay put.
In my own pain, there is one more thing I know. That even when I am alone, it is never just I who sit in its quiet.
I have the One who is always with me, already listening too.