NANCY G. SHAPIRO

FINDING CALM IN THE MIDST OF CHANGE

Querencia—The Safe Place

January 30, 2017

Querencia comes from the Spanish verb “querer” — to desire.

           

Querencia speaks of a safe place, where I gather strength, and therefore become stronger. Where suddenly remembering my true character in the midst of noise and confusion, I speak and act from that knowing. 

 

Querencia is the palpable, bone-tingling sense of "I'm home" that envelopes me in places as diverse as sitting at my dining room table, walking barefoot at the edge of the ocean, and hearing cello music in any form. It is also sometimes interpreted as "nest" — a place of retreat and rejuvenation on all levels — this nesting a self-care that can so easily be forgotten.

           

I am intensely craving that safe place these days, and finding it in four places. With my husband, in both silence and in conversation. At home surrounded by gardens, birds, and dogs. In the presence of a handful of friends. And while fully engaged in my work with clients or writing.

           

Ernest Hemingway wrote in Death in the Afternoon that querencia is the bull’s safe place in the ring where “he is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill.”

           

When we begin to fragment into fear and anxiety, and like Hemingway’s bull feel our “back against the wall” — when chaos is near — actively seek out querencia. Know it is a universal right to desire such safety. For each of us our individual safe place is different, and we may have several, depending on circumstances.

 

One day querencia is found walking alongside hundreds of thousands of others in solidarity. On another day it is praying beneath a redwood tree because life has taken you to your knees. Channeling our unease through work, creative gifts, a sudden call to action, or service to others transforms both ourselves and others. 

 

And when the safe place is elusive, stay open and aware of what and who calms and soothes, take notice when the powerlessness fades.

           

Querencia is home, the place of truth where we fill ourselves with our own strength, the strength of others and of nature, and in doing so, keep ourselves aligned in mind and body. A rooted stance that ripples out to others, and makes the world more solid even as it feels it is shaking apart.

 

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