Ironically, the occasions of our greatest focus are often when we are suffering. We may be struggling with an illness, a layoff, the death of a loved one, or a flat tire. At such times we are often aware of our pain with the precision of a laser beam. Our attention is drawn to our grief, our sadness, our disappointment. We are absorbed into the misfortune that is upon us.
While our attention is restricted to the burden we are trying to bear, we often fail to see the many ways life is caring for us, even trying to help us extricate ourselves from the difficulties we’re facing.
How could life be offering us care or support? This is the same life that gave us cancer, or betrayal, or financial disaster. Haven’t you done enough? Stay away from me and let me twist and turn in the cobwebs of my adversity.
But life hasn’t done enough. It shows up in the form of a doctor. Or medicine. Or a spare tire and jack. It magically appears as electricity or a hot shower. When we’re out of work, someone offers us a temporary job or a loan. After our accident we somehow acquire a neck brace or crutches.
Just because we don’t feel loved doesn’t mean we aren’t loved. Just because we don’t feel cared for doesn’t mean we aren’t cared for. We have to look up. We have to look around us and behind us. Sometimes we just have to look right in front of us. Life has not forsaken us. Don’t mistake pain for abandonment.
When you are weighed down by your challenges, when you find yourself collapsing and gasping for spiritual breath — look for the sometimes quiet, hidden or taken-for-granted ways that life is supporting you. It means a temporary shift of attention from pain toward love. That shift of attention won’t necessarily rescue you from your problems. But it will remind you that you’re not alone.
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Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......