So Long, Comfort
I’ve been thinking about being comfortable. Comfort, the great goal of our culture: to be comfortable with yourself, with your clothing, with your ‘partner’–and comfortable with other people’s choices, including ones that take the lives of innocent children. Why? Because comfort, the great god, eliminates, or at least reduces, suffering. If we are not aware of bodily pain, and we are told we need not bother about the deeper anguish of soul, there’s very little internal draw towards changing things we object to in our government, or in the world as a whole. The habitual response being apathy/toleration, it is easy to respond to abortion and other evils with either acceptance or a sort of half-hearted gesture of protest, even if we intellectually oppose them. Maybe we go to March for Life once a year, or pray in front of an abortion clinic, or walk across America wearing a neon Pro Life shirt. Whatever it is, no matter how outwardly radical, if the comfort sticks around, although our prayers certainly ascend (we have a gracious Father!), our hearts lack the passion that is necessary for affecting change in others and in ourselves.
This has been on my mind because I’ve been shocked to discover that in the midst of this supposedly crazy thing I’m doing, I’ve found myself forgetting far too easily why I’m sitting in this crowded, smelly support van. The best way to recall it, for me, is to be awakened by physical pain to the pain of the women who’ve had abortion, the fathers who will never know their children, and to the pain of the babies themselves. What does it mean to be aware of this massive crime? To have complete awareness would be to be overwhelmed with horror; to mourn constantly. By Christ’s mercy, we cannot see all the ramifications and hurts of abortion, so what are we to do with our small corner of His knowledge?
As I walk along the road, the wind blowing the fragrance of wild roses, the turquoise river flowing quietly beside me, pine-covered hills rising all around, I get lost in the beauty. When washing dishes in the Walmart bathroom with my fellow walkers, jumping into a frigid river at 7 AM and jumping out as fast as possible, and singing obnoxious pop songs around a campfire together, I get lost in the playfulness and joy of community. Even when socializing with daily Mass go-ers, sharing coffee with them, or talking to a man we met who had run out of gas and told us that life was about doing what you believe, I get lost in the splendour of the human soul. At first, I considered these reactions as distractions in myself, but I’m starting to realize that living these encounters with God’s creation, with people, and laughter with friends; taking joy in them for the sake of those who never will, is precisely what we are being called to do, both on this walk, and every day. This is not to say that intercessory prayer and sacrifice are not important–they are, perhaps, more so. But this sort of prayer, when we cannot be fingering our rosary beads, actively recalling the tragedy of abortion, or going hungry for a few hours to atone for the sins of our country, can infuse and take over our lives, if we allow it to. All for the glory of God. The saints tell us that it is possible to retain consciousness of the Passion all throughout our lives–that prayer can be constant.
One of my fellow Northern walkers, Sarah, exhorts the people of the parishes she speaks at to “become comfortable with being uncomfortable”. The way to radical evangelism, assuredly, does begin with stretching ourselves, and thereby attaining a certain level of comfort. Ultimately, the answer is not simply to accept discomfort, although that is a beginning, but to praise. Suffering, then, cannot remain passive, but becomes a loving act.
— Hannah DeRocher, Northern Walk ’13