I've been reading your web page since my son showed it to me and I've got a lot of help from it. You may be able to help me even more if I tell you my own problem. As a matter of fact I've more than one, but I don't want to go on about them! And I don't want to go into details on the net, but it's about living with financial disaster. My husband and I had a very successful business. He's very trusting and unfortunately he trusted the wrong people. We have enough to live on and our family are reared. But having this bitterness in me every day is awful - for my husband too, though he's a lot calmer than I am. I'm no help to him this way. For his sake as well as my own, could you say something that would calm me down and help me to get rid of this bitterness? - Vera
I'm sorry to hear about your financial disaster, Vera (and the details that you sent in a separate e-mail message); and especially about the effect that it has been having on you. If only words could put everything right…! I'm afraid I can't claim to know from experience what it's like to suffer a financial disaster. I started out with nothing, as someone said, and I have most of it left! But I don't have a family, so most of nothing is plenty for me! What can I say to you? I know little enough as an individual, but I am a mediator of a long tradition. Whenever there was a loss of any kind on the farm where I grew up, my father would say, "Trouble isn't too bad so long as it stays outside the door!" He meant that you couldn't compare the loss of a crop, for example, to sickness or an accident. I've quoted those words of his (and many a word of his) hundreds of times, it may be. He was born in 1897 and died in 1977, and how strange to think that words of his, spoken perhaps forty or fifty years ago in a tiny farmhouse in the back of beyond, would now float in cyberspace for the comfort of a fellow-sufferer! We are a vast family, we human beings!
Vast - and compassionate too, when we want to be. Think of that bitterness in you as a wound. Look after it, be kind to it and careful about it; watch it hopefully for signs of healing. All the ages that have gone before us knew what it's like to carry this wound. My beloved father wants to comfort you from his grave. What wisdom he and people like him had was won in the stony fields of experience, and I'm sure that's the only way that wisdom can be won.
You said you wanted "to get rid of" this bitterness. It's not a friendly phrase! If you remain unfriendly towards that bitterness, it will cause you a lot more trouble. Attend to it without rehearsing the story. Don't say it is about that so-and-so who swindled you. The wound is in you, not in him (though he has another wound, whether he realises it or not). Don't try and figure it out for him; let him do that. When you injure your hand, for example, you don't just keep looking at it and repeating how it happened. You attend to it. Think of it as a child in need, a wounded child. One of your own. How you would look after it and mother it! You remember well. And the same child is also your husband's child. As you say, for his sake as well as for your own, healing is needed.
It became clear to me once: the answer is always in the question, the solution is always in the problem. So if you were to "get rid of" the problem you would also get rid of the solution. Stay with this wounded child in you; healing will arise in the child's own body, nowhere else. Just as each of your own children was a stage in your life, so is this. You suffered with every one of them; they are part of your history, they are you.
Through this new one, your life is taking a further refinement of shape. This existence of ours is honing you down. And there are many fellow-sufferers, fellow-Christians, who would wish to
pick up the shavings, with reverence.
A woman said to me once, with sudden illumination, after she had been looking back over the path of her difficult life, "The obstacles were the path!" Her own newly-discovered wisdom took hold of her, and her face softened in a way that I will never forget. She needed no more, and she left. She said, "Thank you so much!" but it was just out of politeness. By God's providence she had discovered her own wisdom. So will you, my friend…. And my father's wise eyes will follow you, somehow, as they have always followed me.
God bless you, Vera! Donagh