On Mother’s Day, I stumbled to our front porch rockers to enjoy the cool air and heady fragrances of spring in South Carolina. The birds were chattering, lush green leaves abounding, and a cup of hot Earl Grey tea in my hands. I felt chilled so I grabbed my “Emory & Henry blue blanket” to wrap around my shoulders, and instantly I felt warm and more so, comforted.
This blue blanket was my Dad’s. He received it as a gift from a friend sometime in the 1950s or 60s. When I would get sick or sad as a child or teenager, my dad would go get the blanket and cover me in it, tucking it in all around me. This was a special treat for no one was allowed to grab that blanket on their own.
I went to summer camp one year in Black Mountain, NC. Soon after drop off, I cried and cried, barely stopping to breathe. I can still feel the pain of being separated from my parents and feeling scared of the girls and counselors. The director had to call my mom to come get me.
The next year I was heading to camp again. Maybe this time I could handle it? My dad offered me his treasured blue blanket to pack to keep me warm and comforted. My memories from that summer camp are of the safety and warmth I felt every time I saw the blue blanket on my bed and every time I crawled under it at night.
My daddy died when I was 18. I don’t have very many of his things. I can’t remember how the blue blanket ended up with me, but I hold on to it with gratitude. In years of pain, of pregnancies, of moves, of darkness, in all kinds of trials and bodily sickness, my husband walks to the linen closet, grabs the blue blanket, and covers me, tucking it in around me. He doesn’t offer words or platitudes, only his comfort and presence, a kind smile and this blue offering of safe warmth.
Comfort is hard to come by in our culture. We are a culture of arguments, of strong language, of discomfort with dark feelings. Often the church is no better and sometimes worse, offering the hurting quick prayers, off-the-cuff truths, and challenging our “weak” faith. We make “comforting” part of our Christian duty, the faith to-do list, and drop by the Christian bookstore for an “encouraging” gift.
We don’t understand that to comfort is to offer warmth. Safety. Presence.
Words are barely needed. We need not equate comfort with “fixing” the person, righting their ship, absorbing their pain. I have done this for so long, but my blue blanket is teaching me another way.
As I quietly rocked with the blue blanket wrapped around me, my eyes welled with tears. I felt this deep sense of sadness that I have spent much of my life disconnected from the tactile, sensory experiences of living my faith in my body. Somehow the faith teaching I have absorbed made the realm of the unseen the sole focus, not honoring our humanness, the way we relate to God with our bodies and the sensate ways He relates to us. That was called “the flesh”, and maturity meant not focusing on the seen.
God is gently teaching me an embodied faith. Bread + wine. Beaches + fish. Touch. Washing feet. Seeds. Weeping. Walking. Suffering. Jesus came and connected to God and others in a body. Even still He is in His body.
On that front porch, I realized that God has used that blue blanket to comfort me for most of my life. It was His gift. I didn’t need to mature out of having a blanket or view its worth as infantile, silly, or faithless. God’s fatherly comfort comes to me in both unseen and seen ways. Through foundational truth, an enveloping hug, beautiful art, a stunning sunset, silent prayer, a sandy beach, rapids on a river, a delicious meal.
God made me. In this particular body. I am His design. He provided ongoing love and care, protection and safety with a real, visible, warm and cozy offering. Like good Daddies do. Something I can see, touch, feel. Embodied comfort. A worn blue blanket.
Dear sister, may you find His comfort today in a million little ways, wrapped around you with the warm of the sun, the presence of another, the spray of a shower, the quiet quilt of His gentle care. He is with you, all around you, offering His soft, tender embrace, the Great Comforter of us all.