Thursday, April 16, 2020

#SOL20 - A Doorway: Notes from the Pandemic

Trying to Find Home (M.A. Reilly, Watercolor, Mixed media)


On Thursday night he went home. He wasn’t feeling well. That week, like past weeks he worked as he had for decades as a plumber in a school system.  By other people's accounts he was an honorable and kind man, skilled at the work he did.  

By Saturday his wife had gotten him into a hospital. By Monday afternoon he was dead.

I think of him, a man I really did not know, just now know of, as he made his way through what would be his last week of life. He made his way through that week not knowing that he would never see another week.

I think of his wife who is making her way through this week.


Loss is incalculable. At first it is numbing. There is no here to hold. There is a travelling of sorts that moves a body across the weeks that follow the death. The perfunctory is performed. The death is forgotten and remembered, forgotten and remembered, a tangle where the beginning piercing of pain shows itself.

Then there is the pain. 
It hurts in ways that steal the breath. It is a full body hurt.

And within all that hurt is a doorway--one that is impossible to actually know at the moment. Not knowing though, does not make it less real.

It is real and it requires us to walk through it.

David Whyte explains.

Pain is the doorway to the here and now. Physical or emotional pain is an ultimate form of ground, saying, to each of us, in effect, there is no other place than this place, no other body than this body, no other limb or joint or pang or sharpness or heartbreak but this searing presence. Pain asks us to heal by focusing not only on the place the pain is felt but also the actual way the pain is felt. Pain is a form of alertness and particularity; pain is a way in.


America, like the rest of the world is poised at that doorway. Each death diminishes us. Each death is a weight we carry. The number of dead is numbing.  


The door we must walk through reminds us of what we carry in the here and now. It is an odd blessing to stand where your feet are.

Whyte, David. Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words . Many Rivers Press. Kindle Edition. 

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