Jane Austen wrote, “There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.” I’ve maybe had a touch too much of that lately, but I generally agree.

Along these lines, I’ve been collecting images. Sometimes I walk into a room and an object startles me, its placement in my world an offering. I want to somehow incorporate it. Sometimes the picture matches my sense of the thing (or person); sometimes too much gets lost in translation, and I abandon the effort. There’s only so much you can do with a phone (even if it is an iPhone—sorry Steve).

But comfort is a funny thing. When I seek it out, it’s terribly illusive. Like scanning a night sky for satellites. You can really only make them out if you don’t focus your gaze too particularly, their movement best caught out of the corner of an eye (not unlike the way my husband describes catching a glimpse of a ghost).

When it comes to relationships, comfort is like ways sly, coming in “on little cat feet” (okay, that’s Carl Sandburg, but the analogy holds). My attempts to grab at it or hold it too tight, too long are frustrating and defeating. Another example of the given as the best good. It’s a strange human conundrum, the way we need to stand apart and on our own but also lean into one another for presence and help. Folk rocker Ani Difranco puts it this way: “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort where we overlap.”

Things which have already taken place are remembered by means of images, whether for the purpose of inspiring wonder, or honor, or shame, or to encourage those who look upon them to practice good and avoid evil. These images are of two kinds: either they are words written in books…or else they are material images, such as the jar of manna, or Aaron’s staff, which were to be kept in the ark as a memorial…   –St. John of Damascus


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