November 10, 2020

Transforming our Pain

“Most people are like electric wires: what comes in is what goes out. Someone calls us a name, and we call them a name back.”


Franciscan priest and author Richard Rohr names our experience with his words.  All too often, in our anxiety, we pass on the same energy that is given to us.   Rohr writes,


“Now compare an electric wire to those big, grey transformers that you see on utility poles. Dangerous current or voltage comes in, but something happens inside that grey box and what comes out is, in fact, now helpful and productive. That is exactly what Jesus does with suffering.”


2020 has been a year full of political and social and physical unrest.  It is all too easy to blame others for our troubles.  Rohr articulates our struggle to halt the negativity:


“Using a scapegoat is our much-preferred method. We deny our pain, sins, and suffering and project them elsewhere. This ancient method still works so well that there is no reason to think it is going to end or change. Until we are enlightened by grace, we don’t even see it; it remains safely hidden in the unconscious where it plays itself out. Once we spot and stop the pattern, the game is over. The cross of Jesus was a mirror held up to history, so we could spot the scapegoating pattern and then stop participating in it.”  Rohr continues:


“Only the Great Self, the True Self, the Godself, can carry the anxiety within us. The little self can’t do it. People who don’t pray can’t live the Gospel because the self is not strong enough to hold the anxiety and the fear. If we do not transform our pain, we will always transmit it. Always someone else has to suffer because we don’t know how to suffer; that’s what it comes down to.”


“Jesus didn’t return the negative energy directed at him—not during his life nor when he hung on the cross. He held it inside and made it into something much better. That is how “he took away the sin of the world.” He refused to pass it on!”


Read more of Rohr’s article “Transforming Our Pain”


What part of this is most helpful to you today?


–Written by Ann Palmerton



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One Comment

  1. Betty Lou Stull November 11, 2020 at 10:43 am - Reply

    When I was a child in grade school, I internalized so many of Jesus’ teachings that have stood me in good stead as an adult. I remember being puzzled that my four siblings weren’t as transformed as I felt by church experiences, Bible School, Methodist district meetings etc I remember how excited I was when two of my brothers had a good experience at a District gathering. While I give thanks for all that has been lifegiving to me over the years, I still wonder, as I did as a child, why t experienced things differently than my siblings. The Richard Rohr quotation is one example. I guess over the years, there have been a variety of answers to my question, but it is interesting that this blog caused it to surface once again.

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