HOW SUFFERING PURIFIES ONE!
By Don Marquis
From “Hermione and Her Little Group of Serious Thinkers,” 1916
Oh, to go through fire and come out purified! Suffering is wonderful, isn’t it? Simply wonderful!
The loveliest man talked to us the other night–to our Little Group of Serious Thinkers, you know–about social ideals and suffering.
The reason so many attempts to improve things fail, you know, is because the people who try them out haven’t suffered personally.
He had the loveliest eyes, this man.
He made me thin. I said to myself, “After all, have I suffered? Have I been purified by fire?”
And I decided that I had–that is spiritually, you know.
The suffering–the spiritual suffering–that I undergo through being misunderstood is something frightful!
Mamma discourages every Cause I take up. So does Papa.
I get no sympathy in my devotion to my ideals. Only opposition!
And from a child I have had such a high-strung, sensitive nervous organization that opposition of any sort has made me ill.
There are some temperaments like that.
Once when I was quite small and Mamma threatened to spank me, I had convulsions.
And nothing but opposition, opposition, opposition now!
Only we advanced thinkers know what it is to suffer! To go through fire for our ideals!
And what is physical suffering by the side of spiritual suffering?
I so often think of that when I am engaged in sociological work. Only the other night–it was raining and chilly, you know–some of us went down in the auto to one of the missions and looked at the sufferers who were being cared for.
And the thought came to me all of a sudden: “Yes, physical suffering may be relieved–but what is there to relieve spiritual suffering like mine?”
Though, of course, it improves one.
I think it is beginning to show in my eyes.
I looked at them for nearly two hours in the mirror last evening, trying to be quite certain.
And, you know, there’s a kind of look in them that’s never been there until recently. A kind of a–a—-
Well, it’s an intangible look, if you get what I mean.
Not exactly a hungry look, more of a yearning look!
Thank heaven, though, I can control it–one should always be captain of one’s soul, shouldn’t one?
I hide it at times. Because one must hide one’s suffering from the world, mustn’t one?
But at other times I let it show.
And, really, with practice, I think I am going to manage it so that I can turn it off and on-if you get what I mean–almost at will.
Because, you know, in certain costumes that look will be quite unbecoming.
Quite out of Harmony. And Inner Beauty only comes through Inner Harmony, doesn’t it?
Harmony! Harmony! Oh, to be in accord with the Infinite!
Nearly every night before I go to bed I ask myself, “Have I vibrated in tune with the Infinite today, or have I failed?”