How to transmute pain into purpose


A woman died. She wasn’t ready to go. There was so much left to complete. Driver’s licenses, graduations, careers and new families haven’t happened, yet. Her home, marriage and career weren’t the way she wanted. She was in the middle of life, she wasn’t ready.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories. –Mona Simpson (From her eulogy for brother, Steve Jobs) 

Various iterations of this story happen daily. When we hear about them, we stop and try to grasp the thinking mechanisms of the Divine. We want it to make sense.

The more distance between our lives and that of the deceased, the more able we are to see a purpose or, at least, accept that it was the right time for her to go. When someone we feel close to departs, in the midst of living, it’s stunning.

I’m grateful for the ample distance between my emotional heart and the woman who, in the middle of it all, left this world. Yet, even from here, I’m bruised and uncomfortable.

Spiritually speaking, I am well aware of the Divine order of things. I don’t need an explanation or a teaching. I understand how to sit with what is and just be, but there’s a huge part of me that refuses to surrender to perceived loss.

It’s the alchemist in me.

Alchemists like me (you may well be one too) need to take the sticky sadness and seeming wrongs of life and transform them into something impactful. In taking pain and transmuting it into something meaningful, we feel triumphant. We stare the causes of suffering in the face and wrestle them into submission; we make them march in our armies, transmuting pain into love.

The alchemist says, I see the pain, the sadness, the upset and I cannot undo it, but I can transmute it. I can turn it into heightened kindness, more generous giving, more fierce loving and exquisite awareness of the wonder in every moment she missed. This loss will add much good to the world. 

I shall make it so.





Photo credit: by Xerones

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