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The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Let go, let God. Proverbs work for a reason: They’re brief, therefore easy to remember, and they pack a punch — a whole lot of comfort in just a few, spare words. They are there for us in an instant, stiffening our backbones, renewing our resolve, bolstering our energy. They are language-based healers, a verbal hug.

We need spiritual pick-me-ups. They are our cheerleaders, our home-court advantage. It is not surprising that the Bible is packed with them. Still, like art, they can be found anywhere: printed in books and magazines, posted on Facebook and Pinterest, scrawled on city walls. I say, take comfort wherever you find it. If it makes you happy, take it into your life. You never know when you might need it.

My favorite linguistic comfort food comes from the Bible, the words of Jesus to the thief on the cross: “Today, you will be with me in paradise.” Wouldn’t we all like to hear those words? What could be better? But I also glean consolation from reciting the first 20 or so lines from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, especially this one: “To Caunterbury with ful devout corage.” (In Middle English it sounds like this: “Full di-VOOT CO-raj.”) “Corage” in this case means “heart.” To have “ful devout corage” is to have a full and passionate heart. And isn’t that how we ought to travel through this world…whether we’re going on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, or just out for groceries?

I admire those people who seem to walk in peace. I am not one of them. Therefore proverbs hold a special place in my heart. As a writer, I love words, in all their myriad uses, but most especially those that bring comfort. I collect them the way other people collect rare stamps or interesting shells. They are money in my pocket, my spiritual reserve. And I’m always keen to add to my collection.

So tell me — what are your favorite spiritual words of comfort?


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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