The Dance of Consolation and Desolation

Jul 12 / Audre Rickard
I noticed the other day that consolation and desolation are always dancing together in our human experience. Noticing our emotions, shame and experiences within the dance brings solace and clarity. Accepting their presence in our life affirms our humanity. Our responses and reactions to consolation and desolation provide tangible evidence of transformation.

For the last 18 months, consolation and desolation have seemed to overlap at times. Maybe they usually do; it just took a global pandemic for me to notice their intimate dance.

With summer unfolding, I took time to reflect on how I responded to the heavy loads of stress through the school year. I noticed how I am one who seems to absorb chaos- it feels like it seeks me out sometimes. I observed a grace filled posture of accepting unhealthy coping strategies. This invited baby steps toward more helpful contemplative practices.

Shame, dysfunctional coping habits, and trauma responses to abuse continue to make their way to the surface. There is a desire for merciful healing. I consider listening with less judgement. There is curiosity and patience to wait on what “wants to be said.”

It surprised me, but a past image came to mind as I pondered past consolation and desolation. For many years I saw my life as a house of cards. It was carefully constructed to satisfy my false self's need to hide the shame, pain, and trauma. I notice how these desolate places forced me to erect new cards to reinforce the fragile lean of the other cards. Consolation was when the cards held, keeping my life looking like it was going well. What a precarious dance it was.

It is helpful to allow the Light to illuminate areas of our past. It is a gift to notice how the work is different and how it is similar. Comparing past images to new images can be an invitation to notice the degrees of transformation. It provides a way to tangibly grasp the density of subtle changes. In addition, consolation and desolation may be differently experienced.

Thankfully, there is more beautiful, glorious work to do.

Today shame still purposes to be destructive. It attempts to hold me captive, but now I don’t have a house of cards I am building. My current image is a wide-open space where freedom, grace, and mercy abound to co-create with the Creator. It’s a fluid, flexible, nuanced, paradox and invites others to join me. There is freedom for the dark night of the soul to take residence. Sometimes, wide-open spaces need a visit from a long winter to do work not done in the summer, fall or spring.

What image comes to mind when you reflect upon the ongoing work of your life?

Life can at times become all about the grind- surviving one day at a time. But we don’t have to return to the path of well-worn ruts of biblical guilt, shame, and passivity. We can notice our past self-made prison of protection, which is now no longer needed or has been replaced by a life giving way of being. Our Creator faithfully meets us right where we are in either place. Through the process of reflection, we can welcome past images to give gifts of clarity and greater understanding.

Our lives will always give us opportunities to examine consolation and desolation. Our image of God, relationship with God, relationship with ourselves and with other people will provide rich context to do the work. As you lean into these areas, our Creator provides a safe place to be heard, receive love and grow. In this safe place our perception and perspective is transformed gently.

Reflecting on the last several months, where do you notice consolation and desolation?
Is there an image, color or metaphor that comes to mind?
Are there images from your past you could use to compare or contrast to your current one?

May you know you are fiercely loved, always accepted, fully seen, known and heard.

In the Spirit's Tight Grip Together,
Audre Rickard
Audre is a Spiritual Companioning Editor who is passionate about helping writers, authors, bloggers, pastors and spiritual directors lean in to their call to write words the world needs to hear. She holds in high esteem what wants to be said and what needs to be said. She believes it takes writer and editor leaning into the Spirit to hear clearly the words the Divine has called the writer to share. As the three sojourn together, the writer’s voice is strengthened, their writing craft is honed and their reader will hear the words they have been longing to hear at just the right time.

Audre founded Saturated Grace, LLC in response to her call to be a Spiritual Director. She provides spiritual companionship and hosts Saturated Grace Groups. She sees the world through the lens of being an autistic person who mothers nuerodivergent children.
You can find her on FaceBook here. Editorial inquires contact her by email at