I have every good reason to count my blessings by having reminders from great teachers and saints and now one remarkable book that just fell into my lap: Eberhard Arnold's The Individual and World Need, from Plough Publishing. Eberhard's reflections help keep me together. I believe his ideas provide a map to that necessary part of our human survival that we need every day. And it comes to us from professional voices throughout the world for our happiness, health and well-being, both physical and mental. And if I find their wisdom moves my heart once more, or causes me to tremble in recognition, I recognize this as a tap on the shoulder, indicating that God is calling me to rise to this place and help bring them to you. I hope this helps for those who might not yet understand what's calling them.
However, even if you're not a reader or seeker; you don't have to go very far to read the signs that will lead you to better health, peace, and happiness. It's calling us through nudges or taps on the shoulders that we might have ignored or misunderstood. But, when we hear what these nudges are telling us, we are brought forward to move in the right direction to stretch and begin our work. Each of us have a different part to play in the whole scheme of things. Each of us is unique but totally dependent upon each other. When we believe how we are being led in our lives, we all thrive. It's not easy for us to grasp this meaning because we are taught to believe that success is a driven series of positive actions that requires either extensive study or many hours of work, and, to a degree, this might be necessary for some things, but this was not meant to be our only measure. I believe knowing what's calling us through our driven need to succeed is essentially created for each of us individually. Our strength and endurance that instills hope in our hearts and alleviates our own pain comes from doing all that we can to alleviate the pain of those around us. This is our daily replenishment that erases fear and brings us peace and happiness. Although this might seem to be the opposite approach to the modern-age ideals of positive thinking and positive feelings to achieve success, I believe that being aware of our choices to act for one another frees us from pain and unwanted consequences we might face later. It is the only drive that'll bring us home safely.
Please allow me to share a brief story: I once knew a woman who suffered because she had been very poor as a child, and had had to quit school as a young girl to go to work and help her family. When she married and had a family of her own, she worked and saved every penny, eventually becoming a millionaire. She told me that her greatest pain from being poor provided all the determination and endurance she needed to tolerate doing without most everything in life; she had continued to make-do with the bare minimum throughout her entire life. But unbeknownst to her, the vow she'd made to herself to never be poor again only brought her a lifetime of unnecessary doing without, while still overseeing the needs of those around her. And sadly, her fear of being poor hid the faces of needy and suffering children from her, including her own, and she herself lived as a poor child for her entire lifetime. I had the opportunity to talk with her just before she died and asked her, "Now, in hindsight, what would you have done differently?" She said, "I would've had a lot more children!" Neither of us brought up anything about her driven life and how she had saved millions. I believe she finally found peace and compassion to forgive that little girl inside of herself by her last wish for more children to nurture and love. I saw this as a beautiful and humble testament and believe she saw the true innocence of all children, including for herself. I am sorry for her life of pain, but in the truest sense, we all carry pain in one form or another, and I know that I'm no different from anyone else in that regard. But what's most important for us is to know there is a better way to deal with that pain that cuts deep in our hearts. Only then are we sure to rise to the meaning of our suffering and fill that void for someone else. Our pain, whatever it may be, will only be alleviated by lessening the pain of others. This is the mystery that is revealed to us, both from Sacred Scripture to the master teachers' words of wisdom.
As Eberhard Arnold says so eloquently in his book,
"When we dare to share in the suffering and life of those who are exposed to the most extreme want, we learn to understand what Schopenhauer means when he says, Optimism is a truly wicked way of thinking; it mocks the unspeakable way of humanity." If we are living cheek by jowl with the unjust suffering of the masses, it becomes impossible to enjoy for ourselves alone the material goods of this world, the pleasures of life, or even the "just of universal history."
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, and the works of Marianne William. She is also a contributor to Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom and a contributor to These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.