Monday, January 25, 2021

Cherish the Small Comforts that Bring Your Joy in an Unsettled World

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We’ve recently moved. Our family feels blessed that our children will create memories in this beautiful home. The kids have claimed their spaces, started to decorate their rooms and seem to have forgotten that they lived anywhere else.

Our home has become more than a dependable place. My husband and I breathe a sigh of relief when we walk through the door, as if the confusion and horrors of the outside can’t possibly penetrate our inner sanctum. The mental game we play with ourselves is perhaps one many of us choose to enter: If we just close the curtains and turn off the news, then everything will be OK.

We know, everything is not OK. Far from it. Yet, maybe one of the ways to wade through the waters is to find those pieces of comfort that displace the feeling of being unsettled.

What brings you comfort during an unsettling time? Some simple favorites: Watching the waves crash on the beach, eating a heaping pile of spaghetti and meatballs, five pairs of hands putting together a seemingly impossible puzzle, and prolonged snuggling at bedtime with plenty of lullabies. Do these comforts change the realities of the outside? Not at all. Do these comforts help relieve our unsettled spirits? For a few blessed minutes, yes.

The Talmud explains that three areas ease a person’s mind: a pleasant voice, sight and smell. Meaning, sometimes, a beautiful piece of music or prayer, seeing someone that brings joy to your face and smelling the sweet aromas of a favorite recipe are more healing than we imagined. Does listening to classical music in your backyard replace the Hollywood Bowl? Never. Does watching grandchildren through a screen replace physical hugs and kisses? It can’t. However, we must take comfort in the ways we can, knowing that these substitutions are not forever. And surprisingly, some of those substitutions can quell the heart in more ways than one.

Emerson reminds us that, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” We can retrain our senses, allowing simple pleasures to settle our souls. The unsettled world is still there, not to be ignored, eager for our willingness to engage, change and mend. But to brace ourselves for the ongoing struggle, we must find those comforts that nourish, replenish and restore.

In this unsettling world, may a few comforts bring us joy and a lingering peace.

Shabbat shalom.

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