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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?

For me, there’s one book of the Bible that always draws me back.

Reading a passage from Psalms, I find myself breathing more slowly and reflexively relaxing.

Maybe it should have been named Calms?

Because that’s how I feel when I read this passage from Psalm 62:

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.

It starts with “Yes,” so it’s an affirmation.  It’s a direct command to your own soul, so it’s positive self-talk.

My hope comes from him.

It’s a reminder that it’s not what’s in front of you, but Who’s behind you that matters.

The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.

The King James version of the 23rd Psalm is the one I learned growing up, and it still makes me feel centered and serene.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.  He leadeth me beside still waters.

In through the nose.  Out through the mouth.

He restoreth my soul.

It’s as if you’ll find your whole life somewhere in Psalms.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path…

When I read this passage from Psalms 119, I feel like I’m powering-up and decompressing at the same time.  Building strength and releasing stress.

The book of Psalms is like a daily shot of Vitamin B:  Be calm.  Be where you are.  Be strong in the Lord.  Be at peace wherever you go.  Believe.  Just be.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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