Monday, October 16, 2006

A comfortable Friday Five

The subject of last week's Revgals Friday Five was comfort. It's funny that some of these answers are so intimate that they made me very uncomfortable.

1. Comfort beverage
I am a Viking through and through. I like my glögg. I like it quick'n'dirty, made with the mix and I like it long and slow, with mulling spices. It's delicious served hot, and refreshing served mixed with ginger ale or champagne as a sort of "Viking Sangria." There are plenty of other comforting drinks; a good single malt in the winter, my grandmother's Russian iced tea with mint leaves fresh from the garden for a shot of nostalgia, even a giant diet cherry limeade (easy ice) from Sonic after I finish a particularly successful class or service where I've spoken for a long time.

2. Comfort chair.

There is a chair in the corner of my living room. Big and red and overstuffed with arms wide enough to hold a dinner plate, a cup of tea and whatever two or three books I'm reading at the time. I can lie on it sideways, legs draping off one arm, head propped up against the other, or I can sit cross-legged like some sort of Buddha. I only use it when I'm doing spiritual work, since it is part of my prayer nook. What makes my prayer nook? The lovely brass floor lamp with rice-paper lanterns the color of swans, a non-descript TV tray piled high with theological books that have captured my interest (some of which I've even read) and a brownish grey candle the size of my fist in the shape of a primitive snail. That snail, which represents the snail I found in the labyrinth the day of my Great Experience, is a sort of totem and it keeps me mindful, as does the handmade bronze cross from Ireland, similar to this one, with the benediction carved into it. The benediction was the first prayer I properly knew --I sang it with a sevenfold amen for my high school baccalaureate-- and, when the weather's right and the wind's coming in from the East, can still move me to tears.

3. Comfort read
I suppose if I were a sophisticated person I'd have something impressive to say here, like Dostoevsky or a particularly difficult section of Plutarch. I'm not that sophisticated, and the type of book I read for comfort has quite a bit to do with what I feel the need to be comforted from. If it's spiritual duress, then usually a quick skim of C.S. Lewis' "Great Divorce" fits the bill. If I'm feeling petulant, then it's "The Secret Garden" with sour little Mary growing happy and healthy on the British moors. If I'm not in any particular emotional trouble and I have a rare morning to read for pleasure, I'll gladly while away the hours with The Jungle Book or some Victorian "nonsense" literature like George MacDonald or Lewis Carroll.

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
I don't watch television, but one guilty pleasure is spending a lazy Saturday afternoon at my grandparents' house dozing on and off to the cooking shows on PBS. As for DVDs, I'd say the Harry Potter series. It doesn't really matter which one, I'm just conditioned to relax and fall asleep as soon as the opening credits start to roll. When Michael and I broke up, I desperately needed some escapism and so I sat, in the dark, watching "The Harry Potter" over and over again until I'd eventually cry myself to sleep. As someone who's long had notorious problems getting to sleep, any trick that works is one worth keeping. To this day I'll put on one of the movies if I need to go to sleep quickly. Also, it's always "The Harry Potter", pronounced "The harrypotter" (something like "the terracotta")

Like with books, the sort of music I need to comfort me depends on the sort of comfort I require. I have compiled many CD's for each specific situation. Let's say I need to feel comforted because I miss an ex-boyfriend who done me wrong. Well then I'll just pop in my "Heartbreak: Questionable Closure remix" cd (featuring Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, John Wesley Harding and Marlene Dietrich, among others). If I'm feeling homesick for Virginia and my halcyon college days, then I plate up "Actually Not" by Eddie from Ohio.

If I've got some serious existential angst, then it requires the strange combo of Beethoven, Pete Townshend, and Flogging Molly. Usually any one will fix a minor crisis, two will put a patch on a big blow out, but for some deep Kierkegaard sort of depression, it takes all three. First, it's the whole of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Cliché? Maybe, but I will cry until I can't get enough air in my lungs at the last movement. Then it's Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open The Door" (This comes from that painful breakup period. I had a major breakthrough when listening to this song and I just felt overwhelmed with God's love.) Finally, it's the Irish band Flogging Molly with a great message of hope in their "If I Ever Leave This World Alive" (I'm okay; I'm alright, though you are gone from my life. You said that it would; now everything should be alright.) click here to go to a Youtube video featuring the song. I have no idea what the video is all about, but it's a beautiful song.

5. Comfort companion(s)
There's a difficult one. I suppose there's something comforting about being around my grandparents, especially my grandfather, but I tend not to look towards other people for comfort. I used to feel a lot of guilt about that --I stopped looking for comfort because everyone who ever comforted me, with the exception of my grandfather has also abandoned me-- but now I'm fortunate enough to be in the position to accept comfort from those who want to give it (not something I'd allowed myself to do before) without *needing* it.

My comfort is with God and God alone. I hope that doesn't sound sad, because it's the most joyful thing I know.


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