As I listen to Bach’s cello suite No. 2 in D minor*; I reflect on human suffering and appreciate the slow solace of the music; a contemplative space, encompassing crevices of pain, as the lament carries throughout the song. A graceful plateau looms up ahead to surface for a time and the song feels hopeful; as in the healing process. The suite carries back down into deep valleys, portraying a calm stillness in ambiguity, where darkness and light exist simultaneously. It vacillates swiftly; then slows to an almost complete stop, where it can be felt that the song has ended, though it hasn’t. It softly resumes with more beauty and reverence than ever, before coming to its conclusive imminence, thus leading to the end. To me, this song emulates the journey of healing for the human soul.
I was desolate. The pediatrician called us with the request to rush our baby girl to the ER. We had just been to the doctor for her first check up and the blood tests revealed something was wrong. Emptiness engulfed me en masse. This unfrequented place felt foreign to me and I entered a deeply held agony. My faith started to slowly wean and I felt a lonely helplessness that I never knew existed. I looked at her rosebud lips and eyes closed peacefully and I held her close to me, waling in tears of unexplainable anguish, “what’s wrong with my baby?” I screamed from within my soul, with ravenous fear. I frantically searched for answers to my pain, while doctors huddled around her.
Hope prevailed. While nursing my baby, they put an IV into her arm and brought in bags of blood for transfusion. I whispered softly to my husband, “she’s five days old.” The doctor stood in front of me and her mouth was moving, but the sound went blank. As I searched my mind and soul for consolation, I could grasp only a little and I knew it was supernatural. I embraced her small body, which was covered with small bruises and her soul felt calm to me. I sensed the strength in her being and was present in that moment with her. There was chaos all around, but I knew I could choose faith in that moment and I did. Five years later, I can make meaning from this ineffable experience, though at the time, I remember barely breathing through each minute.
We were not created to be alone. From a therapeutic perspective, when people attempt to deal with their pain by themselves or suppress it, there are grave consequences. True empathy is when one has the capacity to literally feel what the other person is feeling. When I walk alongside those who are suffering, I am feeling the pain with them, sometimes holding it for them, if they do not have the capacity to be submerged in it. We sit in the pain together. Though I can never guarantee when the pain will end, I can always assure that I will stay in it with them, for whatever time is needed.
Redemption arises. As quoted by Kahlil Gibran: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain” it comes out of the ashes; weeks…. sometimes months later. When it arrives, there is always a sort of artistry, in the restoration process. I am continually in awe of the human psyche and what emerges from the rubble, with a yearning to grow; an incomprehensible and mysterious strength. Empowerment cultivates transformation and it is beautiful to watch, as it unfolds. Just as the long pause in Bach’s suite reconvenes; with a more refined elegance and notable vigor, so does the human soul as it makes meaning from suffering.
*Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor MWV1008 -Mov. 1/6