"Comfort is a shelter, a warm blanket, a refuge," writes Colette Lafia, a San Francisco-based writer, spiritual director, and educator who has served as the director of the C.A.R.E. (Center for the Advancement and Renewal of Educators). She sees comfort as a grace in our lives that we can open and receive as well as give to others. One of her favorite rituals to bring a sense of well-being is a bath. Others might point to reading in bed, listening to love songs, or eating popcorn at the movies.

Lafia salutes comfort clothes that "feel like another layer of skin," such as flannel shirts, loose pants, soft pajamas, or cotton T-shirts that have been stretched out over the years. Then there is the fine pleasure of singing a familiar song and giving ourselves up to the music. Or the good feelings that come with paging through old photo albums. Lafia writes: "As I look through the pages of one of the albums, the comfort of memory comes over me. I feel myself tracing my history, connecting the dots of my life."

Comfort and Joy, contains a treasure trove of simple and pleasurable delights that lend meaning to our daily lives. Giving comfort to ourselves and bringing comfort to others is what we call the spiritual practice of nurturing. Here are some of the other comforts the author savors on these pages:

• Napping
• Sinking into a pillow
• Rain
• Listening
• Solitude
• Talismans

About offering comfort to others, Lafia states:

"In all our daily relationships as a spouse, parent, relative, friend, colleague, and community member, there are many moments asking us to respond with tenderness, patience, encouragement, and reassurance. The more we cultivate comfort in our own lives, the more readily and freely we can bring these gifts to others."

Lafia concludes with a section called "Applying Comfort in Your Daily Life." Here is one example:

"For a day, notice all the little ways you can offer comfort. You might help someone cross the street, bring home an apple pie for dessert, make a donation to a charitable organization through their Web site, wait patiently while everyone gets into the car in the morning."