little bit of lagniappe

reflecting on everyday grace

Archive for the tag “suffering”

Words and Wings

I have just finished reading Paula McClain’s brilliant novel Circling the Sun, which chronicles the fascinating life of Beryl Markham, a courageous and daring woman, who navigates the turbulent skies of relationships, loss, love, and finding one’s true self. While there are a host of reasons why I would recommend this book and far better, more convincing reviews out there to read, three passages in particular stopped me in my tracks, and their truth begged posting:

“The trick is learning to take things as they come and fully, too, with no resistance or fear, not trying to grasp them too tightly or make them bend.”

“How our lives turn and turn. Things come that we never would have predicted for ourselves or even guessed at. And yet they change us forever.”

“There are things we find only at our lowest depths. The idea of wings and then wings themselves…And whatever suffering has come is the necessary cost of such wonder…the beautiful thrashing we do when we live.”


Thank you, Paula, for these words, and for the characters who speak these words — words that teach of both surrender and freedom.

May this opening into a new month — and a new season of summer — welcome in opportunities to see and feel life deeply, to surrender to its beauty and suffering, and to have the courage to try on and use the wings each of us has — wings that are constantly growing — wings that can sprout unimaginably like new shoots from rubble.



It’s a bright and chilly new morn here in Georgia’s capital city, and a clear indication that fall — autumn is here. Leaves have begun to turn and cast down their golden, scarlet, and amber bodies on the ground, and with their turning and falling, they remind us of our own lives, which house both life and death. This season is one filled with both astonishing beauty and quiet suffering, both elation and desolation.

Thank you, autumn, for telling the story of life’s fragility and life’s vitality — and of our Creator who enables the tender places of both and still holds us up.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all the other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one… It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands,
infinitely calm, hold up all this falling.




Thoughts of suffering, pain, hardship, trial, and plain ol’ tough times have been on my mind and heart a lot recently — and their importance.

And so, a poem (which often gives voice to what God whispers to me in my heart when I least expect it) I wrote yesterday, which is aptly called by its subject:


Must we fear suffering?

Must we grow anxious of pain?

In it, we lose our loose grip of reality

we thought was far tighter –

like a leash that snapped.

With each throb

in open heart,

fragile body,

we realize

we have lost control.

Or, did we ever have it?

Who do we think we are,



Suffering means defeat

of ego –

the tension of transformation,

the necessary scouring

of the all layers we’ve piled on

again and again

from the world’s unwieldy expectations,

its prison of deceit.


Suffering means victory

of true self

in time.

Another pirouette

of the age-old cycle –

dying and

rising again.


Look around now,

our mirror lies in nature.

Yet, are we so distant?

Can we crane our necks above skyscrapers

that have altered our view,

or simply lift our eyes from digitized devices

that stain our hands

with battery acid and

the illusion of control?


Have we forgotten

our own fingerprint?


Pain is a story-teller,

a beautiful disaster,

and suffering, our teacher,

from whose breast

we nurse

and finally come alive

to realize

for what

for whom

we are alive.


July 27, 2012

Post Navigation