Episode 6: Joy
Advent, week three.
On the liturgical calendar, this is Gaudete Sunday – or, “Rejoice!” Sunday. It is a clear reminder that we are called to assume a posture of joy and gratitude before our Creator.
In his letter to the Philipians, Paul writes “Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again, rejoice.”
It’s easy to write to others and tell them to be happy in all circumstances when you are writing from the comfort of your luxury hotel suite while sipping good wine in front of a warm fire. Paul, though, wrote that from a prison cell.
I’ve never had to sit in a prison cell. But I’ve been stuck in a hospital room not knowing if a loved one would live or die. I’ve lived through times of depression and despair. I’ve know the deep pain of watching family and friend live through utter pain, sorrow, and emptiness. I’ve trauma and tragedy.
There are things I have learned I will do and won’t do through those times; things I can do and can’t do. I won’t ever look for the easy way out. I won’t attach blame to God as the cause, orchestrator, or manipulator of the horrors and sorrows that visited me. I won’t listen to those whose discomfort in the midst of my own pain compels them to offer false hope or promise quick resolutions.
But I will find a pathway to way to rejoice. I have learned the power of, and value in, finding simple joys in the midst of life’s greatest sorrows.
My daughter spent a month in a coma. Her first intentional movement was the flick of a wrist. Her mother and I, who had spent almost every hour of that month by her side, put one of those ugly troll dolls in her hand. She hated those things, and we knew it. From out of whatever fog she had been living in, she saw that – flicked her wrist, knocked it to the floor, and through her breathing tube grinned. Sorrow and joy all mixed together in that moment – and many others like it. The power of a life in partnership with the sacred, mystical presence of our creator makes such moments possible. We find cause for rejoicing in moments of profound challenge.
Fellow traveler, in the season of Advent, may the tragedy and trauma we all witness not remove from us the possibility of rejoicing. May there be moments of unutterable joy that catch us by surprise on our journeys into the mystic.