2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NRSV)
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Perhaps one of our most difficult callings in life is to be Christ’s loving presence for others during devastating times of grief, illness or loss. The heartbreaking event and its fallout overwhelm us with helplessness. We want to fix. We want to restore. We want to heal. We want to make it all better. We feel uncomfortable with our inability to actually help…
…but we can comfort. This is our Lenten focus for today. To comfort others we need to meet them where they are, with tender listening and presence.
As I reflected on our practice of comforting one another, “Hygge” came to mind. Hygge is a Danish way of living comfortably and simply, of creating coziness in our homes, and of fostering warm relationships with others, especially during long winter months. One definition of hygge is: The art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open-hearted and alive. (from hygge.co/definition-of-hygge/) I think Hygge may offer exactly what those in need of comfort may need.
I found a few Hygge ideas on the blog, “One Little Happy Thing” (www.onelittlehappything.com):
- Candlelight. When I had a miscarriage, a dear friend kindly lit a candle for me at his morning church mass. This simple act brought great comfort.
- Spend more time in nature. We all benefit from walks in nature’s beauty, soaking up the sunshine. No need for words, just companionship for the journey.
- Make time for loved ones. Time… and presence (and to know when to leave).
- Wear warm comfy clothes. When I was having chemotherapy, I received a warm flannel blanket from dear friends at church. I felt as if I was wrapped in love.
- Soup glorious soup. Bring a pot of soup for someone. Appetites may be small, and the warm broth brings healing and comfort.
- Switch off those screens. Turn off phones and pay attention in order to be truly present.
- Get baking! (No further explanation is needed.)
- Make tea in a teapot. Tea is such a comforting ritual, and there are a variety of wonderful herbal or flavored teas available.
- Watch the sunset. What is it about sunsets that brings a sense of wonder and peace- and mutual silence?
Add to these ideas:
- Pray. Pray for those who are in need of comfort.
- Release our grip. Entrust them to God, who is the “one who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope.”
Oh, how God comforts, and God does so much more than comfort! In the midst of deep despair, we can cling to the hope of God’s redeeming, healing love. There is always a resurrection. In the meantime, we can comfort those who grieve and despair. We can journey with them through the long winter of sorrow, as we look with hope to new life in a glorious spring.
Our reminder symbol is a tea cup. May it remind us to be ready to offer Hygge comfort and God’s comfort to those who need to be tenderly loved.
God, our comfort and hope,
Thank you for the comfort you have given us in difficult times. Thank you for the hope we have in you. Help us to share your infinite love with those who desperately need to feel your love. Help us to know how best to be a comfort and a peaceful presence for them. Amen.