MCDOWELL'S MUSINGS, METAPHORS, AND MESSAGES

WHAT DO YOU DO FOR PAIN?

One wonders how humanity survived when they reached the “end of their rope” and there was no “fast, fast, fast relief.” The Aspirin is King! Millions bow and pay homage at his and his relatives’ thrones. Combine all these preparations and their “active ingredients” and crown it SUPER KIN. No more nervous tension. No dull, throbbing sensation. All pain disappears. The world becomes one big rose-colored twilight.

There is a reason for pain. It is an “early warning system” when something is wrong. There are three things that can be done when the shoe pinches the foot. Take a pill to ease the pain, ignore it and hope it will go away or simply remove the shoe. Suppression of pain, either physical or emotional, does not eliminate the cause of pain.

Christianity does not presuppose a life free from tension, worry and fear. However, God has promised to accept those anxieties which are cast on him. This relief requires a total surrender of heart, mind, and body. Obviously, it is easier to take a capsule, for one does not have to become so involved.

But, there may be more involvement than one is willing to admit.

Lack of any pain goes with a well-insulated heart. It also accompanies a remoteness from the world’s bruises. W. Somerset Maugham diagnoses the condition in his comment on Henry James: “He did not live, he observed life from a window … something escapes you unless you have been an actor in the tragi-comedy. In the end the point of Henry James is neither his artistry nor his seriousness, but his personality, and this was curious and charming, and a little absurd.”

Unless we are in the real life drama of humanity, we will have no depth. Without that, a person can have very attractive qualities as a house guest or picnic companion, but Jesus did not call his disciples to a picnic. He mentioned a cross.

One portrait of a charming person skimming the surface of life is one’s author’s description of Portia. Whether this is an adequate portrait of Portia or not, it does portray a large company who have no aching pain. “…She is full of penetrative wisdom and genuine tenderness and lively wit, but as she has never known want, or grief, or fear, or disappointment, her wisdom is without a touch of the somber or sad; her afflictions are all mixed up with faith and hope and joy.”

These words recall Jesus’ judgment when he met a very attractive character: “One thing thou lackest… (Mark 10:21).

In 1841 a shy, sickly New England spinster went to Sunday school one day in March, and as a result the treatment of the mentally ill was changed all over the United States. For what Dorothea Dix saw that day in the House of Corrections in Massachusetts, the barbaric cruelty, gave her an unceasing anguish. She had “a pain of compassion that never left her.” She became one of the most effective reformers the United States has ever known.

The pain of sympathy, of empathy, is supreme equipment for service. And it is more – it is an equipment for seeing. There is a physiological function of tears. A completely dry eye is a blind eye. A moist eye has the power of seeing. This is true in social as well as physical life.