From my earliest memories of my Mom, there is this memory of fresh bread. A yeasty, yummy white bread that she made in big batches. As it cooled on the counter, it filled the house with this wonderful, mouth-watering smell. To me, it’s the smell of Home. Love. Hugs. Comfort.
With every batch, one loaf, still warm from the oven, was sacrificed to the knife for her hungry kids — thick, warm slices with butter and maybe a bowl of applesauce. (Am I making you hungry yet?)
I needed a little of that kind of comfort this morning, so I put a batch of bread in the bread machine and curled up on the couch for a nap. The sounds of kneading bread and the smell of baking dough were comforting. Yes, they call it “comfort food” for a reason! As the bread machine worked, I found my recording of Comfort Ye from Handel’s Messiah and put it on my iPod. I drifted off to sleep.
I knew as I drove home from my on call hours today that I would need to exercise what we call in the chaplain biz “good self care.” I was on the edge of tears, exhausted from the emotional load of my shift. There were some really rough situations which were unexplainable. Deaths which were unexpected. And families who were inconsolable. I knew that a couple of my patients were facing a rough day – there were operations, procedures and the like with high risk involved. Add it to the usual stuff that plucks your last nerve… well, I had had enough.
As I stretched out on the couch, a cat purring on my lap, I was overwhelmed. My heart hurt. I needed to be reminded of a God who understands when we are there in that place of mourning or worry or pain.
“Comfort Ye, my people,” saith your God…
But the beauty of this piece is that the heart-warming “Comfort Ye” is followed by the joyous reminder contained in “Ev’ry Valley.” The things that seem so insurmountable will be made possible. The confusing will be navigable.
That Promise is one that I’m banking on today. A Promise for myself, my patients, my family, and for anyone who happens to wander to this blog.
May you indeed find… Comfort. And may every rough place be made plain.
(If you get here quickly, there might be some bread left! 😉 )
P.S. The recipe is here!
Mark Padmore, tenor, with Sir Colin Davis conducting