joy, in the dark

"Be joyful though you have considered all the facts."  Wendell Berry

Every year, I struggle with Week 3 of Advent, the dadgum Joy candle, and how to be joyful, considering all the facts.

The thing about Advent is this: we're waiting.

And sometimes we're waiting for things that aren't going to happen.

That abusive husband is not going to change.

That health issue is only going to get worse.

That relationship is not going to get its Disney-approved happily-ever-after.

That budget bill looks like it is going to pass, the one that gives the Wal-Mart family a $52 billion tax break, while the CHIP program that provides insurance to poor kids is being defunded because "we can't afford it."

And even if we're in a situation that we think will get better, this Advent might just be a sucky time of life, a season full of facts we'd prefer never, ever to consider at all, thankyouverymuch.

I have to tell you, JOY is not exactly what I feel, right off the bat, when I consider things like this.

The nativity that makes no sense: made in Peru, depicting a (sort-of) Thai Mary and Joseph, with a red-headed Baby Jesus. And elephants.  Naturally.

The nativity that makes no sense: made in Peru, depicting a (sort-of) Thai Mary and Joseph, with a red-headed Baby Jesus. And elephants.  Naturally.

Last year during Joy week, I struggled through to see that when I recognize Love, I can find joy.  Here's what I wrote last year:

I recognize Love in a field of wildflowers: I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the creative work of an artist:  I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the intentions of another:  I feel Joy.

I recognize Love in the face of my best beloveds:  I feel Joy.

And it occurs to me that maybe Joy is just this simple: seeing the Love, all around me.

Reading back over that today, I realized that is that this is a lesson in MINDFULNESS.

Seeing what is right now, right here, right in front of me.

Recognizing what I so often overlook.

Receiving Love in every infinite way that it presents itself.

Maybe NOT waiting (sorry, Advent) but seeing where the Kingdom of Love unfolds here and now.

Sometimes Love is obvious and wonderful, that person who shows up at the right time and place, bringing the gift of joy.

Sometimes Love is just the next beautiful breath, that conscious, grateful receiving of Spirit and Life.

Most of the time, I think we can be recognize Love somewhere around us. 

Most of the time we can be mindful if we take a moment to look and breathe.

But maybe today, for you, life is so sad and hard that you can't be mindful of anything outside of your own tears. 

If that's the case for you, know that this is why we light candles at this dark time of year: to share Love and light with each other.

Every candle on earth shines for you, because we are all part of each other.

Your tears are ours, and our light is yours.


May this light from my home in Texas

shine Love and joy for you today,

wherever you are,

no waiting required.

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