This stop on the Pilgrimage is a two-fer, I have emotional and spiritual pain... Both are hard and you don't want them to show at the same time... None the less, they are here and have to be faced.

I have mentioned before that line, "God doesn't give you more than you can handle".  Well that is a lie, and that line is in my Rolodex of Shame... The Rolodex of Shame, is the place where I keep all of the comments from well intended people who say stupid things. You do not want to be in the Rolodex of Shame... Well, because it is shameful...

This line haunts me, and I'm really concerned that the next time I hear it at Mass, I will go up to the priest and lovingly say....

"You good Father, go sit down, I've got this."

Can you even imagine! Promise I won't do it. But it is on my dream list.

Because many days the pain, the suffering, it is much more than I can handle. It is way more than my family, my children, can endure, I try as best as I can to put a smile-on; and remind myself that there are people who are suffering and have problems far worse than mine. While that is very true, I don't want to be in the business of minimizing my reality.

This burden, this brokenness of body, is heavy and far from light.  That is what makes a Pilgrimage hard. You journey in all weather, you get blisters, you are sore from your pack, you are hot in the sun, cold in the wind and rain. But, you continue walking, because you have a path and a plan. Because, I'm always trying to find the spiritual-silver lining. To be optimistic and see the good...

The girls in my 'hood on a warm night love to sneak onto each others porches for a quick glass of wine; this is where we catch-up on the week.  Many who visit my post-WWII 'hood, with our brick colonials nestling next to each other, think we are right out of the '50s. We rarely knock, and everyone knows each other. And when you can't find a child, or an adult; your first inclination isn't panic, you just look in the kitchen or yard next door. Not what you would expect in a bedroom community of Washington, DC. in 2013.

My Jeffrey rolled home early on Friday; and while my body wanted me to just stay on the couch, my spirit wasn't going to miss Friday night greetings. So as I walked in the front door of one house, to cut through the  backyard to the hostess', I realized that the 100 ft and the natural unevenness of the backyard terrain was trickier than normal, and I was shaking... My body was firing off an internal memo reminding me that it was not cleared for this adventure.

That's pain for you, it's the thief, that robs you...  And I was having none of it.

My girlfriends, saw me unsteady, shaky, as I found the first chair. The glass of water I drank, well it felt like the oasis in the desert. None of this was good news;  I knew instantly,  I would need twenty minutes just to have the strength to walk home. My girls faces turned from happy clinking wine glasses, to a group of worried faces; during my quick week update. When I told everyone, I was fine, and I was absolutely fine. "Fine", meant I wasn't going to pass-out, and I would walk myself home...

One of my girls said, "I hope you are offering up this suffering for something/someone really good..." And that got me thinking; was I, doing that or something different?  As Catholics, we believe that suffering is the opportunity to encounter the Divine. Without question, Christ on the cross is suffering, and we also look at the role models of our church the Saints.  Not many of them got off easy, they all suffered, some tremendously. 

And that through suffering, we find the Gift, that without the pain or struggle, we would miss this opportunity of spiritual enlightenment.

Can I just say, I was very happy drinking a diet coke, would prefer not answering the call to "enlightenment". I have a wonderful marriage, beautiful children who occasionally listen, and a great life. I'm good, thanks.

First, not sure I buy this call to Enlightenment.  I'm not so sure I have much to offer... And also, I'm not sure that I want the gift that suffering has to offer.

I want my life back.

I don't want to make lemonade any longer, I wold prefer to drink tequila...

Can we be really honest, when you are vomiting in the toilet from pain, curled up in bed begging people not to touch you or your bed because the vibration hurts.  How do we resolve life, when anger, frustration and disappointment are so present. Or when YOUR body is racked, with such pain that you are short and lacking patience with loved ones.

I wonder if this pain in my body is so much worse because; it's my body that pulled-up stakes on me... It is my body that quit, when my spirit, and will to fight has only gotten stronger... It's a deep betrayal and it's personal. And there is no outside force to occasionally lay the blame on.... It is all mine...

When I planned my life with Jeff, this was never what was planned... EVER. And frankly, I'm pissed about it... God's Silver-Lining?... Because I can't seem to find the return receipt to give it back and get to my "real" life...

It's at these moments, when life is too hard, that I'm grateful to have faith.

To feel in my heart that these moments of desperation and frustration are temporary, all too 

human and deserved, don't last long.  It is my body's cry for help under the weight of pain.  I  WILL  find peace in a short time and these days of spiritual pain will heal.

It is a great comfort that God can take my anger and frustration.  I never envision God as this all white light filled being of Art and Religious books of my youth. I don't picture him in robes filled with gold. I see a gentle beautiful man best described like a St. Francis of sorts, ageless, and timeless.  When I raise my voice and complain about what ails me, drop a bad word or two.  I see that face with the glint in his eye as he looks at me and smiles, "You done?" And then we have tea and chat. That is how I see God.  I see his humanity, I see his simplicity, his calm, and that is why I'm drawn to him.  The silence in the storm.

So while I'm in this quicksand, I will find my footing, and find the peace that both my body and spirit need.  I will find the Divine, in my children, my friends, in communion, and feel the loving arms of my husband. These are the gifts... The lifelines that pull me along, when I'm too tired to continue.  Maybe that is just what the Gift of Suffering is.... Perseverance.

That is why I can smile at the warm breeze of summer, and delight in the happy sounds of basketball on the street. They are my reminders of normal. That it will come...  You see, I see the face of the Divine, everyday, in my children, in my husband, in my mail carrier, who smiles and says daily, "I'm praying for you girl, don't sweat it."  It is all around us, the simplicity of our life, not the fame or the money. 

The gifts are found in how much we are loving the people we are called to serve.

Do I know that the shot will settle in? Yes, absolutely!  And it will create more good days than the pain can cause me to suffer.  I'm an optimist, we can not call ourselves hopeful people otherwise.

Thank you for joining me on the Pilgrimage.

Kathryn, the PilgrimageGal

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