The mud and the lotus, holding joy and suffering together

White flower petals

In this moving and tender reflection, Corrie van den Bosch MSS explores the potential meaning of a dream she had. A dream that followed her reading a paper on Women and Suffering, which highlighted the inter-relatedness of joy and sorrow within our world – that you can’t have one without the other. And that, amidst all of the suffering brought on by wars, famine, oppression, floods, fires, and other things, there is space and opportunity for compassion, love and anointing.

In breaking open her dream of  the inter-play and presence of ‘the joy of white flowers’ together with the ‘the sorrow thereof’, Corrie invites us to consider how we too can be a presence of warmth, love, welcome and light in the world, amidst the suffering that surrounds us.

‘Every anointing is an outpouring of love, an outpouring of oneself in the tender loving tending of another. Love poured out, love received, love reciprocated: joy and suffering mingle in that anointing. Its fragrance fills the whole house with its sweetness. Is this also what the joy of white flowers is to be? Is it about pouring the fragrant healing ointment of love and compassion on the wounds of the world?.’

‘From a pragmatic point of view, white flowers are useless. So too is the music of the cellist playing in the bombed-out streets of Ukraine. And yet…. The beauty of music and of the flowers can lift the soul: suffering is not the whole story. There is beauty. There is goodness. Where suffering abounds, women and men opened their homes and compassionate hearts to the fleeing Ukrainian people, lighting sparks of hope in the darkness: They are not alone.’

Read the full reflection here, originally written for Contemplative Evolution Network (May 2022).