Tuesday, May 7, 2013

tidings of comfort and joy

For I am very near to falling,
    and my grief is with me always.
-Psalm 38

I think if you attempt to make a list of Things That Are Comforting, you will surprise yourself.
Maybe you will find yourself surprised by just how many things there are in this beautiful world that will bring you such immense comfort.
Someone gives you smile.
Or maybe someone laughs with you as you trip on the stairs (not an autobiographical example at all, of course).
Or maybe your younger brother gives you a giant bear hug, and all is well with the world.
Or you could be surprised by just how very few things bring true comfort. 
True comfort isn't always comfortable in the colloquial sense, in which we usually mean a sort of soporific pleasure that easily envelops us and dulls our senses like too many chocolate-covered sea salt caramels.
Comfort that truly consoles us and knits together our little scrapes and cuts is usually wrapped up in some kind of sacrifice.

I think the core of the song is the part about his sister : she fell for something that was false, a love that was a lie. But we assume her actions were motivated by goodness and love, and thus in the midst of 
  a mess comes something beautiful: a new life. 
The most amazing things can come from some terrible lies. 

One of the most beautiful moments of waking up in the morning is seeing the sunrise.
It is fitting that a ritual so mysterious so magnificent and mysterious as darkness turning to light should be accompanied by an overture so sweet and beautiful as a sunrise.
Light, like a mother's love, or the ability to laugh, is one of those things that is so essential to life that it is best enjoyed when it is taken for granted.
Not taken for granted, as in, forgotten.
But taken for granted as in, it's great joy and beauty comes from trusting that it will always be there. 
The surprising thing about the sun rising each day is that it is not a surprise.
It is what they call a "fact."
A "fact" is what we say when we refer to surprises which we expect to happen.
Blessed Bail Moreau once wrote: "I am convinced that Providence, which has in the past done everything necessary for the development and perfection of its work, will continue to bestow on it most abundant blessings."

Providence, like light, is perhaps the most consoling and the most joyful when it is taken for granted as the most trustworthy.
Providence is the distinct and unique joy that bubbles out of us when we trust that despite the shocking gory-ness of the crucifixion, that that singular act is truly the tidings of comfort and joy that the angels sang about thirty-three years before, one starry night in Bethlehem.

That may not be very comfortable, but it's the most consoling.

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light. 
Cause oh, it gave me such a fright.
-Mumford and Sons         

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