On Joy

Minister’s Musings …………………………. On Joy

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines JOY as “the emotion of great delight caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying, accompanied by a display of glad feelings as in festive gaiety.” Well, that definition certainly describes the Third Sunday in Advent. It is the Sunday that we light the third candle on our Advent Wreath, the Candle of Joy, with a sense of festive gaiety. We are drawing ever closer to the birth of the Christ Child!

One of the things I have observed as I live my life in our North American culture is the false sense of joy that is often portrayed in mass media or marketing. In my view, joy becomes trivialized and is usually generated by smiling individuals beaming because of the new vehicle they have just purchased, or the toothpaste that makes their teeth white in just seven days or finally receiving relief for their hemorrhoids.

My particular favourite (not!) is the extortion of emotion that takes place during special times of the year such as Mother’s Day. No mother can live without the latest model of dishwasher which brings her great joy because of her spot free drinking glasses. 

Now before you call me the Grinch who stole the joy out of Christmas, may I offer some alternative examples of deep joy caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. A couple of days ago, I made my way to my mother’s nursing home. It just so happened that I came upon an “air band” competition being led by the residents, with the help of the Recreation Director, Jeff. A tune would be played. Participants would be invited to “play” an instrument and also come up with some dance moves. Remember, 95% of the people in my Mom’s nursing home occupy wheelchairs. Jeff, bless his heart, was undaunted by that and encouraged each person who participated to enter fully into the moment. It was priceless! You should have seen their feet move! Moments of joy beyond measure, for both the participants and those of us who shouted and clapped for every performance. In those few brief moments, my mother who is deep into dementia now, laughed and watched, with pure joy.

Just a week ago, I travelled to a hospice where a dear friend of mine, Don, was dying of cancer. Don has led a full and productive life, having reached 93 with grace and dignity. One of his passions in life was playing the harmonica. So while I was there, I asked him to play a tune for me and he did – My Wild Irish Rose. He played it flawlessly. The notes still linger in my mind and will forever. A few days later, Don passed away peacefully in his sleep, but he left me an exceptionally good and satisfying gift.

During this Season of Advent, might I invite you to look for joy in places that are least expected. Because in the rush and crush of this festive season, it is all too easy to miss them.

Blessings and joy to you, Linda