I understand the route for the March for Life was shortened this year. This didn't make much of a difference to my daughter, Annie, who suffers from plantar fasciitis. This is an extremely painful condition of the feet. Although it is terribly uncomfortable, Annie makes a valiant effort to proceed with life as normal for a typical 9 yr. old girl -- like participating in the March for Life. She even managed to run her first 5K race with her Girls on the Run group this fall despite her foot pain.
It is no real surprise to me that, yesterday after several hours of standing and marching, her feet are killing her today! It breaks a parent's heart not to be able to provide comfort that can relieve the pain. The best medicinal remedies I can offer are analgesics and heat. Those will calm the pain for the moment. Unfortunately, this pain is chronic and may or may not resolve over time.
So, what does a parent offer a child in this situation? Hugs and kisses to console, a compassionate ear to listen, and then what? Pain often clouds Annie's world, and even the most tender of moments only supplies a brief sense of relief.
What about a lesson on redemptive suffering and the tremendous power of prayer? To those who see no value in suffering, this probably seems pointless. But, to those who have faith, uniting one's sufferings with those of Christ Crucified is indeed a genuine comfort.
Annie (who wishes at this point in the post to say, HI!) understands that bringing her pain to the foot of the Cross to offer it up for people who are suffering, like those who have lost their lives or loved ones in Haiti, is a virtuous act. She will gain much grace in recognizing that her pain has a real purpose. It can be the sacrifice that brings comfort and healing to others who are spiritually and physically in need. Her chronic pain will also help her to see that the virtue of compassion is often gained through one's own experience of suffering.
I remind Annie often that the Blessed Mother suffered the pain of losing her Son, Jesus. We can ask her for comfort through our own sufferings, and be sure of her prayers. Mary went to the foot of the Cross with her suffering, we can and should do the same.
A big lesson for a little girl with aching feet and a tremendous heart!