Sunday, January 12, 2014

Comfort for Scary Times


I watched Ann Curry on TV last week report on the unrest in Africa.  A little girl, age eight, described what it was like seeing her mother killed.  The girl, so poised, had tears running down her face as she recounted a dream she had that her mother was alive again and cooking her rice.  She said when she woke "I cried and I cried".  Then Ann asked her about her mother's killers and she tenderly bowed her head to pray for their forgiveness and then asked God to keep her safe.  Eight years old.

I wonder about the title of Rabbi Harold Kushner's book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People".  I read the book a long time ago and from what I remember God does not really have a hand in causing human suffering.  I also remember that I found Kushner's writing full of solace.

And since life seems to intrude on inner peace with uncanny regularity, a friend gave me a small book of the 23rd Psalm, illustrated by Tasha Tudor that I now keep it in my handbag. It is a little talisman of hope for an uncertain place called earth.  As well, my bedroom is an oasis of calm and tranquility.  I always feel better when I am surrounded by my favorite things.  Perfume comforts me, especially if I associate the scent with a happy memory.  Writing puts things into perspective and soothes me with my own voice.  I light candles against the darkness both literally and metaphorically.  To illuminate the night, even with a penny candle or a gracious courtesy is to open a space for faith and better times.

Frivolous though it may seem, style makes me feel safe.  If I can get up and clean my hair and face, put on lipstick, I feel I can help someone else too.  Many famous women have used personal style to overcome tragedy and heartbreak.  I don't see anything wrong with that.  A sense of self makes us stronger and more able to bring about change. I also recommend soup, teddy bears, blankets, cat's silky ears, or church if you are so inclined. What other things can comfort us in a scary world? Here are three more simple suggestions:

~Children's picture books - if you had a favorite as a child, keep it close to your bed.  Especially helpful if you wake up in the middle of the night with unspoken fears. 

~Music - when I youtube old favorites from past days, my heart lightens.  It makes me grab hold of my younger self for strength.  I remember who I use to be and somehow I am able to carry on with "her" as inspiration.

~Baths - I often wonder if they are so cathartic because at one time, we were all enveloped in a warm comforting wet world for nine months.  A soothing hot bath with bubbles and scent and some time to quietly think can help you envision solutions to problems or bring you back to your set-point.

At times the world seems full of sadness and chaos and we are overwhelmed with our personal problems and tragedies.  We grieve and rejoice in turns.  I went to Ann Curry's website and made a small donation to her African charity fund.  I don't know if it will directly help the little eight year old who lost her mother.  I know that I will keep myself comforted as best I can while I join my prayer with hers for safety and healing...

(Credit:  Florence Harrison/A Falling Star)

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of a children's book by the bedside to scare away the boogiemen. I can't wait to fetch my favorite "Island of the Blue Dolphins" to set there. The heroic solitary girl has always been in my heart, a message of bravery against a scary world. Well done, Donna!

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