This morning on my walk with Nova we ran into one of Nova’s friends, Murphy. Murphy is a British black lab, meaning he is shorter and thicker built than your typical American lab. As Murphy and Nova were playing in the park Murphy’s “person” told me she was envious of her husband and children who were in Mexico. As is typical of our subdivision everyone knows the name of the dogs but not the people. I stood there in the park in my very warm winter jacket, sweater and night shirt, three layers. My daughter makes fun of me, she wears a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, while I wear three layers! But I don’t like to be cold.

As we chatted I shared with Murphy’s “person” that Kim and I have a different response to the cold and the warm weather. Kim, like Nova, loathes the summer, she tells us all to beware of crankiness as the heat makes her grumpy. Nova just lays on the cool tiles in the basement. Kim sits next to a fan, mostly downstairs or by a window. Kim and Nova loves the fall, winter and spring. Cooler temperatures bring much joy to our household.

For me the seasons make no difference, except for what I wear. I am very focused on wearing the right amount of clothes for the day. I do not like to be cold. I can tolerate being too warm but not too cold. And more recently I have grown accustomed to being comfortable as well. In days gone by I was too cheap to buy top quality items that felt great next to your skin. With the advent of used clothing stores I can now buy slightly used, mint condition, top quality clothes for very little money. I find people stopping me all the time to a) compliment me on my brand name clothes and b) ask how much money I make to afford such things. I always respond that I purchased all of it from the Salvation Army Thrift Store, Frenchys or Value Village. When I tell them what I paid for my clothes they gasp.

Three years ago my daughter, who is a minimalist to the extreme, told us she no longer wanted the huge art deco bureau that I found for her on kijiji. It had to go! My wife is very clever and suggested it go in our bedroom, replacing a bureau that had been given to me years ago, one she never liked. Lucy’s bureau was at least twice the size of mine and thus I now had more space for my name-brand, ultra comfortable, used (and therefore very cheap) clothing. So now I have literally something comfortable to wear for every possible type of weather. It is awesome (and cheap!).

Yesterday after I left the funeral home where I presided and preached at a funeral I stood in the rain waiting for my bus. As I looked out on Lacewood in 6 pm traffic I saw hundreds of cars go by. What surprised me were the number of vehicles with crosses and other kinds of religious symbols (some Buddhist, some Muslim, some other?) hanging from their rear view mirror. I am not sure that these drivers would assert that these symbols keep them safe or bring good fortune. What I do know is that every one of them would say that these accessories bring some level of comfort and peace of mind to their day. If they lost these items I am sure it would cause some level of stress and dislocation.

It got me thinking about what accessories, religious or otherwise, we carry with us that bring us peace of mind and spirit. I think most of us have them, even if we are unconscious of this reality. Even my minimalist daughter has a specific t-shirt for every weekday that she hangs in her near empty closest.

I wonder what your symbol, comfort, accessory, is and where you keep it and if you are conscious of what this does for and with you.