Where Do You Find Comfort?

Sixth in a series.

I’m letting Picture a Conversation cards inspire this ongoing series of essays. Martin captured these water lilies at the Chicago Botanical Garden.

This image, and its theme of beauty comforting us through our grief, came about serendipitously. Before Martin and I produced Picture a Conversation, the images and themes in the set were part of a line of greeting cards we called His Lens/My Pen. A woman at an event I was hosting asked if I had a birthday card for someone who was facing a tragedy. “I have co-worker whose wife is dying,” she said. “His birthday is next week. I don’t want to ignore his special day, but I can’t send a regular birthday card to a man who is losing the love of his life.  Do you have anything I could send?” 

Her predicament brought me up short. Life so often gives us the worst mash-ups of experiences. A mother dies days before her son’s wedding. A beloved uncle suffers a fatal heart attack at his nephew’s Bar Mitzvah celebration. These bizarre and painful things happen more often than one would think. I remembered Martin’s image of these waterlilies and told the woman I would get to work that night. If she liked what I came up with, I’d print the card and send it to her as my gift. The simple white waterlily floating against black seemed to be a symbol of hope and comfort amidst dark days.

Being out in Nature has always comforted me in a way that best intentions and kindest words cannot. The crimson flash as a red-winged blackbird takes flight distracts a broken heart; and in that moment when pain gives way to joy lives the promise of its mending. The stillness of snow at twilight brings calm to a raging soul. When family tensions overwhelmed me in childhood, I would escape into the far corners of our backyard, taking refuge in the intense pink drifts of the azaleas and the dogwoods’ stark white blossoms. Even today, a walk down to the lake nearby tempers whatever tempestuousness has me in its grip.

The Spring Equinox arrives next Thursday, March 19 at 11:49 PM, EST. Hints already abound. The tips of the daffodils are poking above the earth; the crocus are unfolding. There is gentling of the air. Winter is heading offstage; spring is waiting in the wings ready to take flight. So let the lengthening of  daylight cheer you. Listen for the birds; they are already singing their joy that the season is turning. Nature’s beauty awaits you just beyond the threshold. Go outside and be comforted.

What happened with the card? The woman liked it and sent it to her co-worker. She wrote me some weeks later to tell me that his wife died soon after the card arrived. And wouldn’t you know, her lifelong passion was cultivating water lilies. 


Keep the conversation going. Recall a time of grief. What helped? What didn’t? How does Nature’s beauty help us heal or provide comfort?  Learn more about Picture a Conversation here.

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4 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Linda Trammell says:

    As always, your words evoke emotion and touch me deeply. Thank you for reminding me to look through the eyes of wonder at the lovely blanket of snow and let it’s beauty comfort me as I commune with health challenged parents.

    • Hi Linda,

      It’s so good to hear from you.
      I am sorry to read that you are at that time of life of
      navigating how best to help your parents. Draw strength from the
      red rocks too. All that iron has to be sending out some vibes for strength.



  2. Alison Blau says:

    As always, tears in my eyes and goosebumps on the back of my neck. Thank you.

    • Oh Alison,
      Thank you.
      I am so glad that the essays move you and bring comfort and insight.
      I’m sure it’s quite different around Beth Ahm right now. Stay healthy
      inside and out!

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