Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. For just as the wind carries thousands of winged seeds, so each moment brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptibly in the minds and wills of men. ~Thomas Merton
Long before Friedrich Nietzsche wrote about it or Kelly Clarkson sang about it, folks held tightly to the theory of the school of hard knocks. I think we often do this in an attempt to make sense out of pain and suffering.
It’s peculiar, though, isn’t it? The school of hard knocks is the playground where the bully wins. What doesn’t kill us makes us something, but I don’t think it makes us stronger. It’s more likely to make us: angry, resentful, unforgiving, fearful, hard…
Sometimes I think we confuse hard with strong.
If we get stronger, it’s most likely despite, not because of the hardship. What doesn’t kill us in fact often makes us weaker but our Father, in His grace, promises to be strong in our weakness.
It’s not what almost kills us that makes us stronger. It’s love and compassion and tender care that enables us to fight the good fight because these gifts nurture and strengthen us, expanding our capacity to learn to love and lean when pain and grief and loss come along again.
I believe that Merton is right: Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul. It’s our job to keep a careful eye on the winged seeds.