Everybody Suffers

(Seder, Chesterfield)

Traci brought out the Seder plate and explained what all of the items on it represented -- the hard-boiled egg, the roasted lamb shank bone, the karpas, charoset and bitter herbs. The bitter herbs represented the hundreds of years the Jews suffered enslavement in Egypt. Karpas was parsley we dipped in a bowl of saltwater, symbolizing the slaves' tears. The idea of suffering resonated.

Who among us can't understand and appreciate suffering? I thought to myself. I felt a sense of spiritual connectedness. Life might be an exercise in suffering, and that suffering might be meaningless, but to make something beautiful out of it -- to rise above it, even -- seemed miraculous, inspiring.

I mentioned this to Brenda, explained to her my sense of awe.

"But I think you're concentrating on the wrong things," she said. "Seder is really more about hope. About freedom from suffering. Not suffering itself."

Still, I saw the ghosts of the suffering floating above the table. Who were they? I don't know: There was nothing anybody could do.

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