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Solace and the Unsung Stanzas.

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

This week, this 2020 election, these last four years, these last two hundred and forty-four years....

They're tough. They're exhausting. They're emotional.

They are felt in our bones, in our bodies, in some bones and bodies more than others.

Sometimes evil wins, but I believe in the deepest parts of me that good eventually, always prevails.

I came here to share two pieces of writing that are resonating with me this morning.

This morning while we wait for votes to be counted, while we wait for a handful of states and electoral colleges to decide whose lives are worth begin saved. This morning while we ask ourselves whether what's broken can ever be mended.

First, a poem by Adam Limón, what are the anthems we sing, and for whom?

Second, David Whyte's words regarding Solace, from his book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, which remind us pain is real and we can find comfort in the darkness. When he speaks of loss, we remember the literal lives we've lost this year, these last four years, these last two hundred and forty-four years; and the deaths of our optimism, our blissful ignorance, and the false narrative that America is a country for everyone.


Solace is the art of asking the beautiful question, of ourselves, of our world or of one another, in fiercely difficult and un-beautiful moments. Solace is what we must look for when the mind cannot bear the pain, the loss or the suffering that eventually touches every life and every endeavor; when longing does not come to fruition in a form we can recognize, when people we know love and disappear, when hope must take a different form than the one we have shaped for it.

Solace is the beautiful, imaginative home we make where disappointment can go to be rehabilitated. When life does not in any way add up, we must turn to the part of us that has never wanted a life of simple calculation. Solace is found in allowing the body's innate wisdom to come to the fore, the part of us that already knows it is mortal and must take it's leave like everything else, and leading us, when the mind cannot bear what it is seeing or hearing, to the birdsong in the tree above our heads, even as we are being told of a death, each note an essence of morning and of mourning; of the current of a life moving on, but somehow, also, and most beautifully, carrying, bearing, and even celebrating the life we have just lost. A life we could not see or appreciate until it was taken from us. To be consoled is to be invited onto the terrible ground of beauty upon which our inevitable disappearance stands, to a voice that does not soothe falsely, but touched the epicenter of our loss, and then emancipates us into both life and death as an equal birthright.

Solace is not an evasion, nor a cure for suffering, nor a made up state of mind. Solace is a direct seeing and participation; a celebration of the beautiful coming and going, appearance and disappearance of which we have always been a part. Solace is not meant to be an answer, but an invitation, through the door of pain and difficulty, to the depth of suffering and simultaneous beauty in the world that the strategic mind by itself cannot grasp nor make sense of.

To look for solace is to learn to ask fiercer and more exquisitely pointed questions, questions that reshape our identities and our bodies and our relation to others. Standing in loss but not overwhelmed by it, we become useful and generous and compassionate and even amusing companions for others. But solace also asks us very direct and forceful questions. Firstly, how will you bear the inevitable that is coming to you? And how will you endure it through the years? And above all, how will you shape a life equal to and as beautiful and as astonishing as a world that can birth you, bring you into the light and then just as you are beginning to understand it, take you away?

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