For those that enter beauty pagaents, writing contests, or sports competitions,  receiving the consolation prize is a sign that you are some kind of a runner up.  There was a winner and they won the grand prize. All the others prizes may represent a good effort or recognize the great performance, but are really an attempt to ease the blow of well, losing. 

How different the prizes of consolation are for us when they present themselves amid and after the inevitable losses in life.  To be awarded consolation in its many guises after grief, rejection, emotional exhaustion is to know the sweetest balm.  While these salves can be as simple as a stranger’s smile, they are often times a reawakening of our senses to the world around us.  In The Sinner’s Almanac,  Taufiq Khalil writes these verses in “Audacity No. 127”: “The dew on the grass in early morning makes me happy. The puddle of water left by the evening rain makes me merry.  The Sun glimering behind a green canopy keeps me cheery.  And God is most pleased with those who smile Whatever the hour Who have the audacity to be happy When all life seems sour”.

There is the gift of a  morning when the heavy hurt you carried like lead for a time too long gives way to the sunshine in a way that no longer mocks your inner atmosphere. The warmth on your face and the sound of the chickadee whose great great great grandparents once sung outside your nursery window is calling you to attention, to be attentive, to attend.

The prolific Pultizer Prize winning poet (yes, she did win a grand prize) Mary Oliver understood well how the Sacred and Holy are embued in Nature, that the possibility of a Kairos moment (meaning the right or opportune moment) is ever beckoning. She asks that we lay our burdens at the altar of heartbeating Life in her poem Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, over the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are flying home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting—over and over announcing your place in the family of things.



    • You know what Taufiq, I bet it is shalaland where you are right now, what is the temperature, warm and balmy I bet, swimming weather? We have had the most snow since the 1970’s here and I am 5’3″ tall and when I am shoveling, it is over my head. Being a born optimist, for the first few weeks, I was saying, “Isn’t it beautiful, time to get out the cross country skis and snowshoes, it’s so cozy with a fire in the fireplace…yada yada…” Now Allah willing, I would like a plane ticket (not even first class) to a Caribbean Island (sipping on some sort of a tropical concoction with an umbrella in it)!! Peace and WARMTH, Katherine

  1. Dear Kat,

    My experience with snow was when i was studying in Leeds, UK. But as Bill Bryson (my und favourite ubertravel writer) says, English weather is nothing like US weather, where it is big drift to hide your house, and cold enough for you to clamber over your mother to get indoor first!

    The weather here has been rain rain rain, and the southern state of Johor had its worse flood in years. A by-election there on Sunday was won by the incumbent party, so of course the opposition says its bad karma. People blame God for all sort of things, don’t you think so? He is not the Almighty GOd, but the Almighty excuse…

    Traditionally, the weather should be turning hot and sunny with Chinese New Year being celebrated today. We have many many holidays here annually, at least 4 for Muslims, 2 for Chinese, 2 for INdians and 1 for BUddhists and Christians each. In some states where there are a bit more Christians, Anamists or Hindus there would be additional holidays… Not counting the birthday of the Sultans…. Our National Independance day of which we in fact have 2! Hahaha! One for the peninsular Malaysia, and another when East Malaysia (consisting of Sabah and Sarawak) joined us after a referendum in 1964. In Sarawak they have Gawai Day for the indigenous tribes and if i am not mistaken they also have a holiday for Good Friday. Our former Prime Minister complains that we have too many holidays. As a business owner, I am inclined to his view now, but i still love my hols! Its a long break for the country as a whole…

    Ah well. Such is my country. Not perfect. Not great. but just so. Many many things need to be improved, and perhaps there are some traditions and old ways which we must learn to recover.

    I hope the snow shan’t chill your soul our dampen your spirit! Oh, a thought just pulled into the station of my mind… I remember a saint i met, and he was talking about rain and snow. According to him snow is a greater blessing / mercy than rain. So how lucky you are!

    As I have ever said, may you be the best Christian that you can be, in honour of the Prince of Peace!


    p/s I am all for egalitarianism… but honestly, i would prefer to ride and write in the Business Class at least. Hehehe.
    p/p/s Whatever happens, i hope things will turn out better for Egypt.

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