As she spoke she gathered her dress into a fold and wiped from my eyes the tears that filled them.
The night was put to flight, the darkness fled,
And to my eyes their former strength returned:
Like when the wild west wind accumulates
Black clouds and stormy darkness fills the sky:
The sun lies hid before the hour the stars
Should shine, and night envelopes all the earth:
But should the North wind forth from his Thracian cave
Lash at the darkness and loose the prisoner day,
Out shines the sun with sudden light suffused
And dazzles with its rays the blinking eye.
In the same way the clouds of my grief dissolved and I drank in the light.
(From the end of II and beginning of III in Book 1 of The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius)
Probably one of the most difficult moments of our lives comes when we fail or when our plans do not come to fruition. In some of these occasions the disappointment and the pain of it can literally bring us to our knees. Perhaps we worked very hard to make sure "Plan A" (a job we wanted, a possible move to another state, an apartment we were trying to get, a response from a bank on a loan, etc, etc) would work and now a part of us feels that all that work was for nothing. Then we are forced to face the inevitable: going from "Plan A" to "Plan B". (Note: Even when we think we do not have a "Plan B", to simply say "what now" is still a start and itself is a "Plan B".)
In moments like these (as we try to implement "Plan B") we try our best to move on; that is how life works. Life goes on because life can only move forward. To many of us this knowledge offers little consolation since we are left wondering with how life would have been. Our feelings could care less that "life goes on" since the pain we feel is as real as life itself. And yet, life goes on.
Disappointment, pain, questions, new questions....all of these come calling to us regardless of who we are. Even those of us who claim to follow a spiritual path are not spared from this. While it is true that some of us are able to find strength in our religion and/or our spirituality in times like these, the truth is that life continues. Thomas Merton said if we want to be spiritual, then, let us first of all live our lives. And that is the challenge. To keep living with the pain, with the disappointment, with the suffering and yet keep living...to live our lives.
We may be some of the lucky ones: with friends, with people who love us, with people that care for us and tell us "it will be alright". They may not be able to take away our pain but they do make it easier to keep on going. If we are not some of the lucky ones, our looniness magnifies the pain and suffering. In some cases however, those who feel alone are not alone; they are unable (for several reasons) to reach out to us.
So the next time you speak to a family member, or a friend, or someone you know and you ask the usual "how are you" be observant. If you get a "I'm fine" it is possible that he/she is not fine. So don't be afraid to say "Well, if you ever need to talk let me know". For all you know, that person has been waiting for you to offer your help. With our help, someone's "Plan B" can in the future be the "Plan A" that they...that we were looking for.