Advent Week 3: Joy

Week three is the week of the pink candle! From what I’ve gleaned from searching on the internet, the other candles on the advent wreath are used to symbolize the contemplative nature of this season, and pink is for the irresistible breaking through, bubbling up of joy.

Joy is one of those feelings that is easier to stumble into than it is to cultivate. There are times when it takes us by surprise and takes us over. All we have to do is be open to it.

There is a moment in my life that I remember as being the first time I was overtaken by joy. In about the third grade, I was on a field trip to some botanical gardens. After lunch, I sat on the hill and watched my classmates run and play in the field below us, and the simple beauty of the scene was seared into my memory. There was nothing special about that moment, except that I felt at peace, and for that brief second, all felt right with the world. Since this time, I have been on the lookout for such sacred moments of joy. They are everywhere, waiting to be noticed.

To be clear, I don’t see joy as something that should, or even could, negate the pain and suffering of this life. Rather, the two live betwixt and between one another. Experiences of joy jump in and exist side by side with the difficult moments of life. The contrast is a part of life, so there is no need to resist joy when it comes to us, as we may be tempted to do. We know this when we lift up the joys and sorrows of our community in one ritual.

Jan Richardson, a United Methodist minister, writes on joy:

You can prepare
but still
it will come to you
by surprise
crossing through your doorway
calling your name in greeting…
it will astonish you
how wide your heart
will open
in welcome
for the joy
that finds you
so ready
and still so

Next time joy finds you, ready or unprepared, notice how wide your heart can open. Let it come, and invite it to stay awhile.

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