Meanderings on Comfort…

We used to jokingly call him King Henry The First. He died on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, a cat’s life, well lived.

I never felt right feeding birds while he was around; scattered bird seed was limited to very heavy snows when Henry was kept inside.

So in December I bought a small feeder, some suet and black sunflower seeds. I hung everything outside the mud room window where Henry had once liked to lurk in the bushes. It took the chickadees a few days; the juncos were next; and then a band of blue jays appeared and I knew we were in.

 

I stood at the window often in the early winter trying to get some good bird photos with my iPhone, but it made them nervous each time I moved, so eventually I gave up and just enjoyed watching them and keeping track of who visited. There was no Henry to hog the chair by the window, only the two humans who politely take turns…

 

Lately I’ve had time to stand quietly at the window again. Spring is here and the birds still seem delighted to be fed. Earlier this week I transplanted a dozen sunflower sprouts to a spot in the sun. Spring has come. Flowers are blooming. Fruit trees are starting to blossom. I have started seeds in eggshells and planted some peas and lettuces. The rhythms of nature have not changed, though the human world is now a discordant bang.  Or perhaps a better analogy is the door to the world we knew slammed shut.

Where is your comfort when so much has been taken away?

Cat lounging on porch swing

My big physical comfort was Henry. There’s nothing like a warm cat cuddling on your lap, purring at you, touching your cheek with his gentle paw… We decided to not get another cat until we came back from our ten day Scotland vacation in June… Yeah, that’s gone too… And now I have no cat to physically comfort me, and no Scotland to look forward to. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not much; I know that. 

We all have lost our comfort-able-ness, haven’t we? Some of us have lost more than others, but we all can lament on what’s been taken from us. We can mourn (it’s okay to mourn our losses, no matter how small) and then we must find new ways to regain our comfort. (Just as an aside, I looked up ways, and the online definition is methods of reducing damage...) 

The word comfort made me pause the other day, as I considered where my comfort comes from…

And what came into my head were the words to one of the best loved praise songs ever written:

My comfort, my shelter,

tower of refuge and strength,

Let every breath, all that I am,

Never cease to worship you…

Shout to the Lord by Darlene Zesch.

If our comfort is in work, family, health, money, entertainment, friends, houses, skills? It’s all up in the air, isn’t it? On hold. That’s not to say, those aren’t good things, but they aren’t the best thing. Earthly treasures disappear. Quickly, as we have learned.

I don’t write about faith often. It’s a tricky thing, and one that I denied for much of my adult life. It’s an unseen, not-easy-to-prove way in our modern, rational world that needs proven science to be considered authentic.

Cat in window

But sometimes the mystery is what we need to cling to when other idols have turned to clay. (That’s a biblical metaphor, by the way…)

I know believers aren’t supposed to quote scripture to prove their beliefs, because what non-believer cares about the Bible? But this quote on faith is one that I’ve grown to love: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.–Hebrews 11:1. Faith is so personal, yet those of us who have it long to share it with those who need it. Because we know how it has changed our lives. For good. For better. For best. It doesn’t eliminate struggles or pain; it simply reminds us of God’s promises, reminds us to be grateful, reminds us to love, and reminds us that dying as a believer is not the worst thing — it is simply the beginning of a new journey.

Kitty looking over back porch

These days, if your comfort is cold, and you are thinking hard on what is important in your life, give faith a chance. Not all Christians are looney-toon right wing nut cases. :-) Some of us are probably your friends. We are struggling to make sense of all this too, but the three things we do have are comfort and hope and faith–the assurance that things unseen are truths we know in our hearts, our minds, our souls. And it gives us a glimpse, a gift of peace that’s not present in this earth-bound world.

 

Here are some places to meander:

Read this: The Gospel of Luke in the New Testament; Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd, Corona Virus and Christ by John Piper; Be Still and Know that I Am God

Watch this: Hope in Times of Fear by Tim Keller;  A moment of Comfort by Kathy Troccoli;  Choose Faith, not Fear, a sermon by Nicky Gumbel

Listen to this: Shout to the Lord, sung by Darlene Zesch; In Christ Alone by Celtic Worship; No Longer Slaves sung by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser;  Finding God, sermon by Timothy Keller

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Meanderings on Comfort…

  1. I don’t have a faith in the Christian God but have a deep appreciation for the unknown, nature and the resilience of life.
    We did have pets most of our lives but when we lost our faithful cat a few years we decided to wait as we had just retired and would be travelling a lot. Now of course that has come to a halt so the lure is there again. However, I also love birds and we have a wooded ravine behind us so lots of birds and thus I am reluctant to bring another cat into the mix as I perceive that birds may be struggling a little now and would be better without the added stress. So cat less we will remain.

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    • Yes, I do love the birds. Except for the brown headed cowbirds. (I open the door and shoo them away every time I see them.) But they are no substitute for the warm, sweet kitty who was always in my lap within thirty seconds. All of our cats have been strays, so it seems we are just providing homes for those who need them…I respect your decision–thanks for reading and commenting–but I’m sure hoping another stray cat turns up soon…

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    • I was just explaining to my friend that I don’t usually talk about faith because I remember how it felt to be “preached at” by my mom…but yes, I’m so grateful I have that hope that transcends this crazy world…And I’m not to be silent in times of trouble and fear… Thank you.

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  2. It is so important for people to hear the gift of faith and hope in a way they can understand, in a way they can be comforted. Thank you for sharing it authentically 😃

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  3. Deepest condolences to you and your husband for the loss of Henry. All three of us are still adjusting to Sally not being around the house. Between Lisa and Maggie, I’m not sure which one misses her more? I never imagined working from home with my job. It has been four weeks and so far the curve is still tracking up in the counties around the S.F. Bay. I suspect it will be at least another month of shelter in place when the present one expires May 3rd. The Laboratory is an essential business and is slowly bring people back to work (some have never stopped and have been supporting the research with the world’s fastest computers). If the decision makers choose to ignor the scientists, this pandemic will get far worse. Stay home and enjoy the garden. Most of all, stay well.

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