Sunday, December 12, 2010

Praise sorrows?


December 12, 2010

Dear friends,

We have thought together about the ways in which gratitude functions as a change agent. I discovered this idea expressed in a different and thought-provoking form in Anterooms, Richard Wilbur’s new collection of poetry.

The fourth poem in the collection is titled “Psalm.” The first of its five stanzas reads:

Give thanks for all things
On the plucked lute, and likewise
The harp of ten strings.

The concluding stanza:

Then in grave relief
Praise too our sorrows on the
Cello of shared grief.

Think about this change: stripped of narcissistic individualism, our sorrows are also to be praised, voiced through the “cello of shared grief.”

There is something powerfully moving in this image: my personal grief heard first as an unaccompanied strident solo, then mellowed and muted into one of many voices in the dark rich sound of the “cello of shared grief.”

Do you view sorrow as a solitary activity?

Comforted tonight to know my sorrow is not mine alone; I rest, hearing the night music of shared grief.

See you next week.



  1. Thank you for the reminder, Gay--to praise for sorrow, too--consistently bringing us to community as a "we"--a shared sorrow....we were as you would say, meant to be in community....easier to do when feeling upbeat, positive and jovial---when chips are down, isolation is not a good place to land....mindful of how I choose community and how I give to the community I share, in the good and not so much...thank you for your wisdom...Janet

  2. Thank you for this beautiful way to look at gratitude as a change agent. It really spoke to me as did the poem and the "cello of shared grief". As I am now, once again this year, going through a grief process over losing my friend, I am finding that it is a balance of solitude and prayer -- just being with God, and a sharing with others who are willing to listen and hold me in their hearts and prayers, that makes all the difference. It draws me ever deeper into community and teaches me, drop by slow drop, that I am never truly alone. Molly