Reflecting on the joy of pain

by Anna Blanch on November 8, 2009

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief…and unspeakable love.” ~Washington Irving

I was reminded of the wonder of living without pain and the gift of pain this week. Pain is the body and brain telling us that something is wrong. This is not an easy lesson and it is one that took me many years to appreciate. It was hard won and was a bitter pill on its way down.

This Poem by Florence Earl Coates captures the experience of Pain and its larger perspective  better than almost any qork I’ve read. It was a comfort and a challenge to me during some of my “bad pain” days. This is in honor of a friend whose been suffering of late. May she continue to recover well!

Unto the Prison House of Pain none willingly
repair, —
The bravest who an entrance gain
Reluctant linger there,
For Pleasure, passing by that door, stays not to
cheer the sight.
And Sympathy but muffles sound and banishes the

Yet in the Prison House of Pain things full of
beauty blow, —
Like Christmas-roses, which attain
Perfection ‘mid the snow, —
Love, entering, in his mild warmth the darkest
shadows melt,
And often, where the hush is deep, the waft of
wings is felt.

Ah, me ! the Prison House of Pain ! — what lessons
there are bought ! —
Lessons of a sublimer strain
Than any elsewhere taught, —
Amid its loneliness and gloom, grave meanings
grow more clear,
For to no earthly dwelling-place seems God so
strangely near !” 

 Anna M Blanch is founder of Goannatree, and a PhD candidate in the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts, University of St Andrews, Scotland. She’s grateful she no longer wakes up in pain.

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