Solace for all of us with Freds

Dear President Trump,

During this Lenten season, my church’s early service is pretty different for us. Instead of the word collages that form our usual hymns, readings, messages, blessings, we are invited to more simply be present with one another and our sense of God, quietly. When one of us would like the tangible support of the community we are invited to sit in front of a deep bowl filled with sand and a lighted candle. Someone sitting in one of those chairs is signaling the rest of us that we may go forward and place our hand on the person’s shoulder or back and simply stand with them silently or sing a simple chant. This morning two brave souls asked for and received such solace from the community.

One was a man whose brother recently committed suicide. At first when I had my hand on his back I was just there for him. Then, as I focused on his loss and his pain, my fears for my own brother came forward. When my brother is manic and scared, he will walk in the street and think about stepping into the traffic. I couldn’t sing anymore. Then someone else put their hand on my shoulder. No words, no direct knowledge of my burden, just a loving presence. I was and am so grateful.

I recently learned that your older brother died from complications related to his alcoholism. I have no way of knowing exactly how this loss sits in or on your heart, whether you think of him every day or whether you feel the loss more acutely around his birthday or holidays or the anniversary of his death. But I’m sure you feel it and that at some level his death reminds you how fragile we all are and how interconnected we are. You will carry the memories of your brother with you wherever you go, forever, and so will I, and so will the man in my congregation.

I hope that you have people around you who truly support you, who let you feel your feelings without trying to cajole you out of them, who will simply stand with you when you need shoring up. I hope you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to accept such grace.

May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be at peace.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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