I’ve found myself thinking about and appreciating sorrow these days. It’s a deeper and more profound experience than just sadness, but it’s not all together unpleasant. In fact, it can be a comforting place to inhabit for a while, perhaps because Sorrow sings the middle range.
The cello, the French horn, the alto, the baritone—they tend the hearth while the ecstatic soprano ascends the summit and the lamenting bass descends the oceanic depths. Sorrow holds hands with both, bridging despair and ecstasy in bodied solidarity and quiet understanding.
Sorrow fathers compassion and mothers wisdom. She steadies, stabilizes, mellows, and comforts. She speaks her name quietly, but with confidence.
Happiness sometimes blinds with brightness, and despair blinds with the deepest darkness, but sorrow casts a gentle light on all things, like candlelight—allowing sight, while obscuring imperfections.
Happiness can alienate with his energy, despair can isolate with his lethargy, but sorrow welcomes the friend and stranger alike in hospitable companionship and says, “Come, sit. We’ll wait here together until the others return.”
But even in that companionship, Sorrow maintains her inner solitude—a quiet space, a calm sea, a warm spotlight on the darkened stage.
Sorrow is the gray, rainy day reading a book in front of the fireplace. That’s a place I know well, although I knew it when I was young as a physical place–reading in front of the wood stove on a rainy Pacific Northwest day–and now I know it as a spiritual practice.
Sarina Gruver Moore teaches English literature and writing at Grove City College in Pennsylvania.