The Rare Incense of those Hours

Pine resin

Pine resin

First, I have to say that all four of my children are healthy, strong, happy, and doing satisfactory work in the world.  But, for no reason at all, this Christmas brought up more than the usual incursion of memories of my children’s suffering and my pain related to their suffering.  The dark season evokes bygone trauma like cold weather wakening old injuries in creaky joints, only these are latent injuries hiding in the heart.  Sometimes I curl up into a ball of anguish, clutching at the unreachable ache.

Frankincense

Frankincense

Why does this suffering stay with me?  It’s as if my psyche chose to accept my pain in increments over the whole of my lifetime so that I would not die of grief then and there. I look for some good in it. Decades of putting these pains upon the altar of my heart, submitting them to the purifying fire of divine mercy, something must be refined in the alchemy of love.  Some rare substance, a divine spice, awaits my use for sacrifices to come.

Meanwhile, I continue my prayers. A young friend just delivered a newborn with a hole in her diaphragm, and this new mother has spent this Christmas in the hospital singing to her little one recovering from surgery.  Another young friend just encountered the onset of his first bout of mental illness in the form of suicidal depression. Another young man struggles with incapacitating chronic pain and memory problems brought about by seizures.  I feel close to the suffering of these young people particularly because their pain has been similar to mine. Perhaps this kind of identification is only the most primitive form of compassion. But maybe this kind of compassion is the only, if ephemeral, good to come from pain.

But it is something. And I find that from the vantage of my age I can take from the treasury that spice-residue of old prayer to produce a fragrant offering now. I pray for these young people struggling in this imperfect and dangerous world.  I throw upon the fire of my prayer the rare incense of those purified hours of my own life to make a more perfect offering.

Incense rising

Incense and Cross, Sr. Cathrine Grace

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3 Responses to “The Rare Incense of those Hours”

  1. MikeF Says:

    Beautiful and true. “[T]hat spice-residue of old prayer…” Wonderful!

    Thank you – Happy New Year – peace, and all blessings

    Mike

  2. ammaguthrie Says:

    Blessings and incense rising to you, too Mike. Happy New Year.

  3. Patricia A. Guthrie Says:

    wonderful metaphor. Very creative Suzanne. Your blog kind of hit me where I live.

    Happy New Year to all of you

    Pat

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