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One Small Moment (Joy…)

The third week of advent is traditionally the week of Joy – that moment when we have come halfway toward our Christmas celebration and pause to see the beauty all around us.  We lit the candle last Sunday but I hesitated to write about it as I was nowhere near a joyful state.  I was cranky from not sleeping and from tasks at hand, and short-tempered with the (perceived) shortcomings of others, and so I delayed until my mood improved.  We bought, put up and decorated our tree in stages over the first half of the week, and the joy in my children started to be contagious.  I thought maybe I would write about the meaning and the memories attached to the ornaments we love to unpack each year – each one is a symbol of a joyful moment we have shared… 

  
 But then the worst.  Devastating news from a dear and treasured friend – beloved by all who know her and irreplaceable for her many and generously shared gifts; the sudden return of a serious illness that has thrown all thoughts of joy into complete chaos…

Alternating between anger and tremendous sadness, I can do nothing but feel helpless and pray…  Part of the time I am angry at myself for my selfishness, and part of the time my heart is breaking for the relatives who are doing everything just to keep going right now, in the face of Christmas cheer raging all around them.  The deepest empathy, a gift my friend is so blessed with, hardly penetrates the shock and fear and sadness; how can you feel Christmas in the midst of pain?

How do we feel anything in the face of darkness and suffering? 

  
 And yet… I can’t just sit here and wallow in the darkness and despair.  My beloved friend, if she had the strength, would tell me so I’m sure.  Life is riddled with sadness, but even through the sadness there are smiles.  Even in the winter there is a promise of the spring, and even deep in advent there is joy

“Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light.” (Theodore Roethke)

My amazing friend, with her gracious spirit, shares so much of herself with me and with many: her love of life and laughter in spite of the many struggles that she has faced, and her endurance of all manner of frustrating difficulties without judgement, without criticism and without complaint.  She finds beauty in the ugliest castaway things, she brings life to places that have been ignored and neglected, and she makes note of humour when all seems to be lost… She has a powerful, joyful spirit.

  

“Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture and, if possible, speak a few sensible words.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Facing the increasing darkness of the winter horizon as day by day we are still losing light, facing the scarier darkness of illness and worse, I imagine what she might say.  Like Goethe, she relishes the little things. She has found joy in giving of herself, and in the joy of others. If I have shown love and hope and mercy it is in part because I learned from her. Her joy has helped me follow that path, and through all the selfish anger and sadness that is clawing at my heart right now I will dig deep for what joy there is to be had in giving of myself to others – one small moment at a time…

“Only those who give can know joy.” (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe)

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One thought on “One Small Moment (Joy…)

  1. Anonymous says:

    My dear Lara: Thank you for sharing such a poignant reflection on the journey of your beautiful friend. I hope to meet her one day. How blessed is she to have a friend like you!

    I found great solace in the words of Pastor Rick Warren: http://rickwarren.org/devotional/english/the-definition-of-joy

    And may I share these quotes from Evangelii Gaudium:

    “Joy flows from being infinitely loved. In suffering, we have to let the joy of faith revive as a quiet yet firm trust. This infinite love cures our infinite sadness”. (EG 6)

    “I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. I understand the grief of people who have to endure great suffering, yet slowly but surely we all have to let the joy of faith slowly revive as a quiet yet firm trust, even amid the greatest distress: “My soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is… But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness… It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord” (Lam 3:17, 21-23, 26).

    God bless you, Lara.

    Liked by 1 person

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