Recently, I woke up with the words ‘everything is consolation, not desolation’ ringing in my head.
I had no idea what it meant, but it was quite an insistent thought so I mulled it over. Consolation, as in, consoling someone when they are upset? I guessed that the concept kind of fitted into my spiritual outlook; that we should be nice to each other ( to break it down to its most wishy-washy basics).
But the phrase stuck in my head all day, so by the afternoon I needed to consult Prof. Google.
As it happens and contrary to my original assumptions, it turns out that ‘consolation’ and ‘desolation’ are very specific concepts, which will be familiar to you if you have any knowledge of the fascinating world of Ignatian spirituality.
St. Ignatius of Loyola defined ‘desolation’ as the “darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which lead to loss of faith, loss of hope, and loss of love. It is also desolation when a soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad, and separated as it were, from its Creator and Lord” (Spiritual Exercises, p. 130).
Consolation is the other side- feeling close to God and interconnected with everything. I was just tempted to write ‘ blah blah blah’ which shows the kind of mind set that I’m in right now.
I may be only 15% Catholic and perpetually pissed off at their view of contraception and abortion but my God do the Catholics have some great ideas. This, of course, makes the bad bits even more frustrating to me.
I have to make clear that these concepts weren’t totally foreign to me. I have read about Ignatian Spirituality in the past, although more skimming than deep reading.
The materialist view says that these thought were already in my head and just happened to randomly to pop to the front of my mind that early- dawn. Another view, still materialist but respecting the amazing ability of our brain, is that my memory hauled it out of the murky depths because on some level I had an awareness that it would be useful.
The other view which is much shinier and happy and life- fulfilling is, of course, that God decided that I really needed to delve into this area and so placed the idea into my brain.
Which ever is true, I’m going to spend some time today thinking about the ideas in this article; strategies for dealing with desolation when is comes upon you.
If you are interested, this is the best website that I have found on the topic; Ignatian Spirituality . Plenty of rabbit holes to get lost down!