"There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom, which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.~ Pearl S. Buck
The first thing I did after reading this quote this morning, was look up the definition for alchemy! I wanted to know what Pearl S. Buck had in mind!
I have always believed that there is supernatural value to our pain. I am not alone in this for theologians long before me have written exhaustively (and more eloquently) than I ever could about this truth. My belief that pain has a divine purpose was made not by studious conviction alone--it developed over time as I, like you, suffered enough sorrow and sadness that the only thing left to do was to grab onto God's waiting hand.
Enter, Pearl S. Buck, a woman who certainly had her fair share of suffering and disappointment. Struggle and success. As I remembered my Literature classes of long ago, it began to make complete sense that Pearl S. Buck chose a scientific term to describe the transformation that is possible--even in the face of suffering.
When your loved one is a prodigal, the journey can be chronically painful. Too many of us put our lives on hold until...until....until that moment our prodigal will return home. We refuse to go on with our lives-with our transformation- and, consequently, remain cocooned not in a place of growth but the dangerous place of paralysis. If we stay there for too long, we lose our dreams, our goals, our purpose, our very life.
Are you thinking, like I am, of the birth of a butterfly? Think back to your elementary school years, remember the process of the birth of a butterfly?
Stay with me just a little longer! ;) This isn't a science lesson, it's a metaphor~ :)
In this metaphor, we are the butterfly and the cocoon (chrysalis) is the pain that we feel. The metamorphosis is only possible when we choose to fight our way out of the entrapment of our cocoon and develop into the beauty that God desires for us.
Imagine with me just for a moment, the loss of beauty we would have in our world if that little larvae didn't push it's way out of the cocoon. Would the wonder of springtime be the same without the beauty of a flitting butterfly? If the butterfly stays in it's cocoon, what happens to it's purpose? My memory may be fading from those long-ago elementary science classes, but I seem to recall that a butterfly's purpose is to pollenate, helping other flowers grow, creating even more beauty!
Got the picture?
Science is clear, the butterfly must come out of it's cocoon to be a butterfly and live out it's purpose.
Literature may not be as clear, but I believe Pearl S. Buck provided crystal clarity in this quote.
Yes, there is suffering and we will experience sadness. And yet, the existence of both does not have to stop us in our tracks. "The alchemy of suffering" is that we can choose our metamorphosis; it will lead to wisdom if only we push through the cocoon of our present pain. We can change the form of our current state. The birth of a butterfly requires stages before we see it's beauty: it transforms from egg, to larva, to pupa--to glorious butterfly.
To me, "the alchemy of suffering" means we do not have to remain immobilized by the cocoon of pain. The lesson Pearl S. Buck has offered is an invaluable one: suffering can bring about wisdom and minimally, happiness.
Were I able to have a cup of tea with Pearl S. Buck, I would have liked to thank her for this quote, but would have wanted to add one more piece to the transformation; a philosophical element that I believe she may have missed. For I believe that the purpose of the butterfly extends beyond it's natural purpose and beauty; I believe it's foundational purpose was to bring glory to it's Creator! I believe that the "alchemy of suffering" not only leads to happiness....it leads to complete joy and glory when we let go completely, offering even our deepest pain to our Creator.
Are you ready to be transformed? I am! Let the chemical reaction begin! Let's move from the immobile state of paralysis and begin our metamorphosis! Will you join me?