Chapter 22 » 22.82


I thought back to my own times of sadness. They had been acute and I had prayed for relief. But gradually I had felt towards the awareness that there was a harsh reality about pain and sadness more tangible than words and phrases. To write about pain is to run into the danger of wrapping up sadness in words and pushing it outside. But sadness had brought home to me that all wisdom fails, all books are empty, in the face of the inescapable experience of pain. Sadness has its own authority.

It built a bridge to others. But to do this the pain had to be accepted, acknowledged as a companion. If pain brought bitterness and an irresistible desire to blame others and punish them, then it was isolating. If it was accepted as a personal burden, it opened a door to the souls of others seeking answers to the mystery of suffering.

I was also made aware that when I had met other people of different faiths or of none, who seemed to know the same experience of loss and bewilderment and search below the level of words and creeds, then we found that, despite differences, we were strangely at one.

Could this be the path to a new sense of unity, the community of those who had known pain, and thence had found depth, so that creeds and traditions became but signposts to an acceptance of sadness and an entry into a depth where we found harmony with each other? Was this the way forward to a deeper unity with people of other religions or indeed of none? Perhaps we could start with the simple discovery that words divide and sadness unites.

Robert Tod, 1989

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