Yes, I know it’s May. Shh.
What feelings does this word evoke? What sorts of memories does it recall? Which of your senses start to tingle? How would you represent what this word means to you?
Having spent Lent getting my head around Paul, comfort is throwing me into John and the farewell discourses. Tallis, of course: if ye love me, keep my commandments, and I will give you another comforter, that he may bide with you for ever; even the sprit of truth. Comforter is the word that is translated elsewhere as advocate. And I remember being told that comfort in this sense is more like encourage.
And, thinking about that, I begin to see comfort as a spectrum. There is, of course, the duvet-and-blanket, warm-heavy-cat-on-the-knee comfort: an encouragement to relax, to sleep, to let go of things. Then, in Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo has killed Tybalt and Juliet has no idea what to do next, she asks for some comfort, Nurse. And then the dancing, flaming wind of the Spirit, distinctly uncomfortable, you would think. And yet.
Comfort is the thing that pushes or pulls me towards whatever it is I need to do next. Very often resting is exactly what I need to do next. I remember last year, when circumstances had me staying nearly a month with my housemates’ parents, and how warm and comfortable and supporting was that spare bed of theirs, and how white the sheets, and how that month of being looked after was exactly what I needed then.
And what I need now? Well, my bedroom is dusted and vacuumed. My possessions are piled on the bed, waiting for a rucksack to put them in. I move on tomorrow, and it is time and past time. Comfort is only comfort for so long; one’s foot goes to sleep after a while.