Today, my youngest came to me feeling only stress. After she told me all her troubles, we spent some time imagining how to help her see beyond them. That remained the trouble. She could only see her troubles.
In school, we’ve had countless workshops on mindfulness, on helping students deal with their emotions and all the stresses these past eighteen months put onto their hearts. I thought, it would be worth a shot.
“Imagine a beach that stretches out further than you can see, followed by an ocean as clear, smooth and calm as glass. The sky likewise is awash with light, warm but not hot. I told her to imagine her first trouble like a large heavy rectangular three foot by one foot, three inch thick gray rock. We listed the rocks, one at a time. We placed them on top of each other, until they towered over her in the image.
We stood in her mind’s imagination, staring at the pile. I asked her what she could see. She talked about the rocks. Her pains and sufferings, some big, some little, some normal for someone ten years old, some we would never wish on anyone. Seeing the rest of reality did not change the existence of the troubles, but it put them in perspective. Grace, faith and hope, they’re all like that. They don’t change the existence of suffering. They help us cope with the rocks, and see the more that all reality is. Suffering pretends that this is all that is, and keeps one focused only on the suffering, so that nothing other than the suffering can be seen. Suffering by its nature seems like it never will end or as if it cannot be endured. Perspective allowed her to see the troubles dwarfed beneath the image of the infinite calm ocean, clear sky and white sand. The troubles remained grey hard rectangular rocks in a stack, but the rest of the world remained so much bigger and broader.
I pointed out that the beach, the water and the sky all remained, but couldn’t be seen as long as she focused on the tower of troubles she’d piled up. She could go around them. She could climb them. She could scatter them. The troubles remained, but the rest of reality, the blessed part, the gifts of every day, likewise remained. God invites us into the infinite always and every day and in all things, most especially in suffering. We only need to look to see.