22 January 2019

Comfort - not just something physical!

Hey, so I want to talk about comfort.  It comes in so many different forms, as we're all aware, and as a species, doesn't matter if it's animal, human, or even plant, comfort is a thing we all yearn for.

My dog, she's most comfortable wherever I am that she can touch me.  If we're sitting on the couch watching a movie, she's right next to me, right at my hip, usually under her blanket (she's a Dachshund, and Dachshunds are known burrow-dogs).  My cats, they're fairly comfortable wherever they decide to be.  Sometimes on my lap, sometimes on the back of the couch, my bed, wherever they feel like being that they know is within their permissible boundaries to be.

Personally, I'm comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt, barefoot, running around in the sunshine.  If it's cold, I'm happiest indoors, of course.  If I HAVE to go out, then I want a silly hat and usually, I can get by with a hoodie.

But, I didn't decide to write this about physical comfort.  No.  I want to talk about comfort that goes deeper than the surface.

There are certain phrases we say that we are comfortable saying around certain people.  Whether it's in how we greet our closest friends, or even when we're writing letters to people we love.  If we're not too sure about the person we're speaking with, then we hold back, however much, and let things play by ear.  Or, there are people you're nonetheless still comfortable with, but you still hold back things because you're afraid of what's going to come of a phrase or even a simple word.

But more than that.  Deeper than that still.

What about things we are comfortable with thinking about, pondering, and considering?  Are you comfortable, really comfortable, acknowledging those things??  Or do you just go blithely through your day and not really pause to consider your surroundings, and the people in your vicinity, whether you're conversing with them or walking by in a store or institution?

Tonight, I went to my parish for a class we've been doing on Monday nights for the last couple of months.  The class is called 'Epic: A Journey Through Church History' by Steve Weidenkopf and Dr Alan Schreck.  It's been really interesting, all the pieces that have played a role in the evolution of the Catholic Church as a whole.  Tonight, as with all sessions, we opened with a prayer and we closed with one at the end.  It hit me, though...  When we were saying our Hail Mary prayer, that talking to Mama is so comfortable to me, she's been such a big part of my life for the bulk of the past twenty years (even when I wasn't able to go to Mass or I was exploring other denominations, almost like I was making 100% certain that I felt what I did the first time I went to Mass in 1998).  I was praying, and I wasn't just going with the flow of the prayer because it's rote (memorised).  I was thinking about every word, every part of the prayer, and how it just rolled off my tongue like, 'Hi, Mom!  It's me again.'  Even the same at the end, when we were praying and then doing the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be.  Each prayer, it just rolled off my tongue like it's been there my whole entire life.

I suppose, in a strange way, my life really didn't begin, spiritually speaking, until that first time I went to Mass.  I mean, at least the journey to where I am currently, it's obviously not been on pause this whole time, but at the same time, my spiritual life was kind of in this weird... meandering ... I don't know what to call it.  After that first experience of Mass, though...  I didn't know the how's or the why's or the what's of what was happening, I just remember feeling really comfortable and at peace.  I'd never felt that anywhere else in my life.  I felt safe, and I felt wanted, and I felt LOVED.  Three things I'd never experienced before, either.  Spiritually or otherwise.

The connection we have with those we are most comfortable, it's unmistakable.  You just know it's there, you feel it as real as the furniture upon which you sit.  You know it's as tangible as you are.  And still, it's something we take for granted and we shouldn't.  Ever.

How many of us can safely - and honestly - say we don't take what we have for granted?  Whether it's a friend or an item, it's undeniable, it happens.  Tonight, I realized that whilst we prayed.  Prayer really is just a conversation.  One of my closest friends told me that in a recent conversation.  We have something amazing freely given to us all, a means to keep in contact with the very God Who put us here.  And yet, we either ignore Him or even scarier still:  we deny He even exists!  I am fairly open about my own faith journey.  It's no secret how thorough I was when I looked for my Beloved Jesus.  I left no stone unturned (and I do mean NO stone!).  How comfortable did I get that I got complacent in my walk, though, is equally terrifying?  Tonight, it hit me when I said to my Mama, 'pray for us now and at the hour of our death, amen.'  Mama, I know for a fact, has been there for me, even when I never asked Her to be.  Even before we formally met, She was there, praying for me, imploring her beloved Son on my behalf.  And I am tremendously grateful not just to her for such an intercession that continues on, even now, but I am even more overwhelmingly grateful to Her Son, my beloved Jesus, for His reaching down and rescuing me.  He showed me He's very real, He showed me He's excited to spend time with me even though I am but one person in a big, big world of lots of other people.  People far better than I am in communicating, thinking, talent, profession, all of it.  He looks past all that and sees me.

My priest talks about this a lot.  He says that prayer is bringing the real you to the Real Jesus.  You can't lie to Jesus.  He's already abundantly aware of what you're about.  But, you shouldn't ever lie to yourself, and it's tragically accurate to say that we do.  We lie to ourselves, constantly.  And, to lie to ourselves, in a weird way, we are also daring to lie to God, Himself, because He created us in His image.  That's a pretty big no-no to do that to Him.  It's like smacking Him in His precious Face and saying, 'YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME TO BE HONEST, EVEN WITH MYSELF, BECAUSE I DO NOT SEE THAT I'M GOOD ENOUGH TO BE HONEST WITH MYSELF.  YOU ARE MAKING A MISTAKE INVESTING YOUR LOVE IN ME!'  Don't do that.  I beg you.

If we are so comfortable that we can lie to God, to ourselves, to each other... What else are we comfortable enough to do?  I am growing more and more comfortable with prayer.  I'm not quite where I was 20 years ago, but I'm constantly trying to keep my focus where it belongs: on Heaven.

I have become more comfortable sharing things about my faith (as is the case here).  I am trying to become unflinchingly willing to speak up with the truth, even if it means I will lose people in my corner.  There aren't many there as it is currently.  But, I don't try to put my faith in a person anymore.  I used to, and it landed me in hot water so deep and so hot, that I almost lost my life because of it.  That was several years ago.  I don't talk about it much, not openly, but that was a situation I wrestled with for a while.  I did a lot of reflecting on how I'd gotten to that point once I was able to get up at least out of the pit and have a seat at the edge to really sit and look at the whole situation as it was.  And I promise you, I force myself to revisit as often as the most scared part of me is willing to go, and sometimes I'll push myself a little further each time, if I'm able to handle it.  The reason I do this is because, again, 'comfort.'  I don't want to be too comfortable shoving things aside anymore.  I can't aggressively work on all this crap in my head if I'm too comfortable with it.  I need to get to a place where I can just close my eyes at night, trusting completely that there are no nightmares awaiting the insides of my eyelids.  Monsters under my bed are vanquishable.  That's why God gave us St Michael and why He is so readily there for us when we but ask Him to be.  Why St Michael is also so readily there for us.  We need to shift our focus on what we're comfortable with, things that are not healthy, to those that are healthy for us.  And I don't mean just a nice pair of fuzzy slippers fresh out of the dryer on a cold morning.  I mean in every sense of how God wants us to be:  Comfortable with HIM.

It's so easy for me to say, 'I need to call Home.'  'Call Home' is my euphemism for, 'I'm off to go pray.  I need to go speak to Jesus about some things.'  Back when I was in my early 20s, I used to reach out to Jesus about EVERYTHING.  I mean, EVERYTHING.  I'm so grateful He's so patient, too, because... yeah.  ha.  Now, I live with a crippling fear that I'm too analytical to be a member of His Family, but then again, I know He gave me a brain to use, reason and intellect to work things out, to recognize that there may (or in some cases may not) be situations where it's fine, and if not, then to speak up.

One thing that I've also realized, too, is the comfort I feel when I walk into the parish where I worship.  Sitting in the sanctuary, it's so peaceful and quiet.  Like, even when the choir's doing their practice or even warmups, just being in the Presence of God is such a wonderful experience to me.  I often think about what it would be like to live where I worship.  As in, Convent Life.  I KNOW I'm not cut out for that, but sometimes I suspect my priest would get sick of seeing me so much if I lived close enough to walk (and not have to walk across a really scary bridge to get there and home again haha).  I think about how amazing it is going to be to just be with my Beloved Jesus 24/7 when we get to Heaven, and how amazing a gift it is that I can go see Him as often as I'm able for Masses.  And yet, I don't feel like it's enough.

Father talks about how we say, 'I love Jesus,' but we never really take the time to spend time with Him throughout the week.  I'm getting more and more comfortable doing that again.  Not just reading about holy people (saints, Church Fathers, etc), but enjoying my home is Enthroned and enjoying that I have His image all over the place.  My living room, my office, my hallway, my bedroom, my kitchen even.

I am 43 years old, and I am realizing more and more as time goes forward (and now that we're just a little under 90 days left to Easter...) how much I want to know my Jesus more and more.  He's so much more than just a 'really nice Friend' to talk to, He's so much more than that.  He is not just my Comforter, He's everything I have ever wanted and ever needed.  And I am completely fine with that.  It's a shame it's taken some of the worst situations I've ever had dropped into my lap for me to realize that, but as I mentioned this morning when I posted the Bible verses for the day on my IG account:  I focus on my blessings, because to do so distracts from enabling my issues from bothering me.  Mind you, I am paraphrasing what I said, but I'm tired and my brain's pretty frozen right now.

I'm going to sign off with a quote for you from St Anselm of Canterbury:  'I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand.  For this too I believe, that unless I first believe, I will not understand.'

Comfort.  It's not just a physical thing.  My prayer is we seek the Comforter Who can show us best what true peace and comfort are in its purest sense.  May we not become complacent...

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