Frankly, I could use one, walking around gimpy lately, as I have. Do you know what a hygge is?
It is a word in Danish, and can be used as a noun, verb, or adjective—which suggests it’s packed with meaning. But some words don’t translate so easily. Do you know how in Costa Rica they say pura vida all of the time in all manner of circumstances? It literally means “pure life.” But pura vida can mean anything from “way to go!” to “it doesn’t get any better than this, does it?”
Hygge isn’t just a quality of mind but also a treasured part of the Danish national character. The Danes are an interesting people. The cloudy, wet, murky weather of the North Sea blows right through them, making for an introspective, brooding outlook on life. Soren Kierkegaard, the melancholy Dane, is a son of Denmark. But have you ever seen those comprehensive studies on the happiest peoples of the world? Denmark comes out on top in more than one of the surveys.
Go figure, right? Hygge is the clue for how such a counterintuitive thing becomes possible for them. Hygge (pronounced hooguh) is the philosophy where finding joy in the moment becomes paramount. In other words, in that northern domain, hygge faces directly into their bracing conditions of omnipresent bone-chilling cold, and seeks to turn things toward something warm.
Hygge is about celebrating the cold as an opportunity for making ourselves cozy. It’s a quest for cozy and the value of cozy at the same time. Friends, this is a timely word now, as the mercury begins to plummet and the sunlight almost always seems a little bit dim, both early and late. In recent nights, have you noticed the reappearance of the shivering moment, getting ready for bed, then plunging in, only to realize that the sheets need our body heat to make it inhabitable?
Hygge is embracing the hand you are dealt, facing directly into adversity, looking to the bright side where joy ever patiently awaits. It is refusing to make other shivering neighbors miserable.
Building a fire in the fireplace, covering yourself in a blanket, and watching it burn is very hygge. Falling asleep in the backseat with someone you trust driving home, hearing only the tip-tap of tires across the seams in the road, and then awakening in the driveway is hygge. Watching the slanting sunset rays decline while illumining the last color in the trees was hygge moments ago.
Do you need a hygge? I could use one. Leaving a warm bed earlier than planned, coming to FCC on a chilly Sunday morning, and hearing about God’s radical grace in the story of Zacchaeus was hygge for us last Sunday. This week a parable provides our hygge, as we hear of God’s mandate in Jesus Christ to engage living life with daring and passion and not fall back and falter.
See you on Sunday!