Can pain and peace coexist?

Today I asked myself “Can pain and peace coexist?” The question arose because I was talking to a friend who was comforting me while processing a painful pain. As she comforted me and I stopped feeling self-pity for my loss, I realized that I hadn’t even found out how she was doing because she was so consumed with my problem that I later asked my friend how she was doing. “Well,” she said hesitantly, “I’m fine, but I just found out that my sister went to the hospital today and they found bone cancer all over her body.” I was stunned to hear about this shocking parody. She knew that she and her sister were close and this would be difficult. My thoughts raced to “how selfish of me to burden her with my troubles when her poor heart is heavy with her own pain, fear and loss.”

Suddenly my own personal pain disappeared like a small puff of smoke in a fierce wind. Instead, my heart filled with compassion for my friend and her sister. Peace welled up within me as I prayed internally for them. Then I heard the correct words to say. “I’m really sorry, it must be very difficult,” I said. Then I said in amazement “How could you listen to me and my loss?

(which seemed unimportant now, I thought), when did you just hear such devastating news? “Camelia enthusiastically replied that I should never hesitate to approach her and share what is happening to me. She explained to me that her heart feels happier when it leaves itself and focuses on another. She assured me that she likes to be of service and feeling useful and the act of helping another softens your pain.

In that moment, my personal pain and ache felt far away and instead, I was aware of a gentle presence comforting Camelia and me. I think the angels reached out, supported us and hugged us with love. This common bond of human suffering and pain touched both Camelia and me. The shared pain opened us to the truth that no one can escape experiencing some pain in this life, but that it is possible to invite peace into the room to sit with the pain and ease the pain. Our shared honesty and compassion comforted us both and helped each of us look at life through a lens larger than our own. She was my teacher of compassion that day and I knew in my heart that both pain and peace can coexist when love and compassion are present.

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