The following was written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh 16 years after the kidnapping and murder of her infant son:
Suffering is certainly individual, but at the same time it is a universal experience. There are even certain familiar stages in suffering, and familiar, if not identical, steps in coming to terms with it., as in the healing of illness - as, in fact, in coming to terms with death itself. Tosee these steps in another's life can be illuminating and perhaps even helpful.
What I am saying is not simply the old Puritan truism that "suffering teaches." If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to be vulnerable., All these and other factors combined, if the circumstances are right, can teach and can lead to rebirth.
But there is no simple formula, or swift way out, no comfort or easy acceptance of suffering. "There is no question," as Katherine Mansfield wrote, "of getting bbeyond it" - "The little boat enters the dark fearful gulf and our only cry is to excape - 'put me on land again.' But it's useless. Nobody listens. the shadowy figure rows on. One ought to sit still and uncover one's eyes."
...Courage is a first step, but simply to bear the blow bravely is not enough. Stoicism is courageous, but it is only a halfway house on the long road. It is a shield, permissible for a short time only. In the end one hasto discard shields and remain open and vulnerable. Otherwise, scar tissue will seal off the wound and no growth will follow. To grow, to be reborn, one must remain vulnerable - open to love but also hideously open to the possibility of more suffering.
SECOND SOWING For whom The milk ungiven in the breast When the child is gone? For whom The love locked up in the heart That is left alone? That golden yield Split sod once, overflowed an August field, Threshed out in pain upon September's floor, Now hoarded high in barns, a sterile store. Break down the bolted door; Rip open, spread and pour The grain upon the barren ground Wherever crack in clod is found. There is no harvest for the heart alone: The seed of love must be Eternally Resown.