For Priests and All

I wrote this, by request,
for a gathering of Passionate Priests
meeing in Sacramento, CA.

May some thoughts touch your spirit now …

papa ………………………………………

Somewhere between the search for sustenance in the concepts of “acting courageously” and “giving encouragement”, both somehow “of the heart over mind” yet a universe apart in motivation, was interjected the beauty of “consolation”. Memoried words tumble down and pluck the strings of my passion …

“My beloved is the mountains,

And lovely wooded valleys,
Strange islands,
And resounding rivers,
The whistling of love stirring breezes,

The tranquil night
At the time of the rising dawn,
Silent music,
Sounding solitude,
The supper that refreshes, and deepens love.”
(St John of the Cross)

“While we may grow or suffer during individual spiritual search and epiphany, the conjoined group experience providing a vital extension. The contributions and expectations of each individual are necessarily diverse. Some may desire enhanced understanding of the Charism of our Lord and its implications for everyday life. Others may seek solace in the battle between ‘willingness’ and ‘willfulness’. You may be enthralled with the group energy and special manifestation of the Holy Spirit that transcends individual grasp. Your draw may be as simple as an extension of charity — the reaching out of a hand to another — and gracious acceptance of charity from others.” (In Retreat, 2001)

And now I am drawn to ‘be this for others’, and to muse as to whether such choice of action and persuasion is courageous, supportive of the idea that ‘preparing for courage is in itself courageous’. Let use presume for discussion that a ‘quantum of solace’ is a part of our Covenant, and thereby one of the warp threads from which we weave life’s tapestry. Then to ‘be there for those lonely’ is not courageous but a denial of our own solitude; “as we must be two, so shall we be three” — the greatest argument against solipsism. Obversely, to consciously withhold solace may require great courage, with friendships and karma both at stake. One problem, of course, is that many give solace without ‘heart’, as in “in kisses and cookies and cabbage.” Yet that may be ‘instinctually’ exactly what a person may need to break then out of their loneliness torpor. While ‘encouragement’ is usually to support a person’s directed or chosen path, surely it may be to divert a person from an unwise dissolution.

This snaggled thread of contemplation may lead once again to both ‘consolation’ and ‘encouragement’ as means of eliminating those obstacles to self-awareness and balance such that courage is possible. So, I do not believe that being ‘consolant’ is an act of courage, but the process of ‘gifting solace’ draws both giver and giftee to a better sense of comfort with eternal solidarity — or unity with One. Some call that faith.

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Male, 62 - owner of an eclectic retreat center called Sakin'el in Knoxville, TN. Author of many books listed on

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