Monday, February 9, 2009

Giving and Receiving Consolation

written by Henri Nouwen

Consolation is a beautiful word. It means "to be"
(con-) "with the lonely one" (solus). To offer
consolation is one of the most important ways to care. Life
is so full of pain, sadness, and loneliness that we often
wonder what we can do to alleviate the immense suffering we
see. We can and must offer consolation. We can and must
console the mother who lost her child, the young person with
AIDS, the family whose house burned down, the soldier who
was wounded, the teenager who contemplates suicide, the old
man who wonders why he should stay alive.

To console does not mean to take away the pain but rather to
be there and say, "You are not alone, I am with you.
Together we can carry the burden. Don't be afraid. I am
here." That is consolation. We all need to give it as well
as to receive it.

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