Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Sound of Suffering

"Flowers" by Dr. Robert O. Fisch
The past couple of days have been quite a struggle for me, in a number of regards. On a physical level, I can't quite seem to shake the aftereffects of my infusion on Monday. Either that, or I'm just experiencing some sort of flare. Regardless, I've acquired quite a headache and "thinking" in general is taking more of an effort than I like. What makes this most frustrating for me is the fact that I have so many thoughts running through my head that I want desperately to piece together in some sort of message to you. This desire is so persistent, that I can not ignore it. So if this message seems disjointed or chaotic, please know the difficulty at which it comes.

On an emotional level, the past days I have been overwhelmed with highs and lows.The tragedy that ravaged the people of Japan is a horror I never thought I would see in my lifetime. Comprehending it seems impossible. So silenced was I by the magnitude of this event, I neglected to even reach out to those I knew of that had family living in the country. In fact, those I neglected are a part of my very own family. If not for the compassionate reminder of my sister-in-law, I may still be paralyzed with inaction to this day.

On Monday, after my infusion, my husband and I had the absolute privilege of attending a performance at the Ordway. I generally go straight home and to bed after IVIg because of the side effects. But this night was different. We had been invited by our daughter Casey to see a production entitled Light from the Yellow Star, Remain Humane Even in Inhumane Circumstances. The music was that of Boris Pigovat, entitled Music of Sorrow and Love and was performed by the University of St. Thomas Wind Ensemble. Also featured was the Saint Paul City Ballet and the art and commentary of Dr. Robert O. Fisch, Holocaust survivor. But what made this event most special to us was the featured soloist, my step-daughter Casey.

The evening was comprised of the writings and artwork of Dr. Robert O. Fisch, intertwined with poignantly beautiful music and the intense emotion of the St. Paul Ballet. Throughout each piece Casey's soprano voice swept throughout the theater, caressing the ears of the listener, not unlike that of Sarah Brightman in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Requiem. It was a moment I will never forget.

Casey Johnson with the UST Symphonic Wind Ensemble

The narrative, given by Dr. Fisch, was extremely moving. Despite his story of terrible suffering, his message exudes hope and optimism about life. Choosing compassion over bitterness, Dr. Fisch describes his life of service towards others, especially children. His stories and artwork both follow his progression from darkness into light. Transforming his suffering into hope.

Already, still in the midst of unfathomable tragedy, signs of compassion and hope can be seen on the faces of the Japanese people. How this is possible remains the secrete of the human spirit. Transforming our greatest sufferings into opportunities to love, are the miracles of choice. And when this happens, walls fall down, cultural lines are erased and countries are without borders.

As I sat there in the Ordway listening to Casey's voice my heart understood something. Even as the music she sang had no words, only as her hauntingly beautiful "Ahhhhs" filled the air,  was it then that I realized the importance of our voices in the midst of suffering. Even if they are but a whisper or a moan. What a loss it would be to this world if Dr.Fisch had chosen to be paralyzed by his experience. If he had been silenced by his suffering. I can not begin to compare my suffering over the past two years with the pain of the people of Japan or the Holocaust. But what I can do is learn from their courage. No matter how small our words may seem, when they are spoken from the depth of our experience they hold incredible healing, not only for ourselves, but for those that hear them.

When I think of why I write this blog to you, it's that very hope. That in our conversations with each other the lines that divide our sufferings can be erased and the common thread of compassion can weave the tapestry that is this life. Beautiful, colorful and real.




Sally said...

Thank you for your words. Very uplifting.

Wishing you sunshine and smiles.

And to have lived through what the Japan people have....There is no words.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Theresa. I'm glad I could experience it with you last Monday night. You summed it so well. Beautifully said.......

Deb G.

Theresa said...

Than YOU, Sally!

Theresa said...

Deb, thank you for being with us. Like I said that night - it meant so much to have you there.
I can't imagine my life without you in it.

Alice said...

I'm sorry to hear you are having a rough week but thank you for always thinking of others and posting such insightful and loving words. The devastation in Japan is just that....devastating and it is hard to comprehend but our prayers for them as well as anything else we can do to help all mean a lot and help them keep going.
I hope you feel better and better each day and hopefully the warmer weather and sunshine will help.
I love you.

Theresa said...

Sunshine does WONDERS!!! Love you too!! Speaking of which.... we need to get together!