Joy to the World! Joy is the focus of my advent study this morning, Joy! It seems somewhat fitting that it is a dark, cold, wet morning here in Texas. Poor Eloise was forced to face the most terrible of indignities when she had to do her morning business in the cold rain with lightning and thunder. She has taken to her hiding spot in the bedroom and is refusing to come out. This morning is not a very joyful one for poor Eloise. Eloise finds joy when she is around other people and dogs, she craves companionship outside of her Mother and feline sister. Eloise’s truest expression of joy is when I roll the window down in the car and she sticks her head out in anticipation as we make the turn into the parking lot for doggie day care, Eloise’s happy place. But Eloise is also joyful at the end of the day when I pick her up and she runs down the hallway straight to her Mother.
Joy! Where is the joy in our lives and in our world? As conflicted as I feel about the new Covid-19 vaccines being reviewed for Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA, I do think that joy can be found in the promise of a vaccine. The current vaccines, and subsequent iterations bring the promise that life might eventually return to normal. Joy can be a current state of being due to our surroundings or circumstances or joy can be found in the promise of a better tomorrow, joy that there is the potential for things to get better, be better, that we are not stuck in what can seem like an eternal wilderness or land of darkness. That we do have the ability and gift of being able to look forward, to have hope and a belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel. That tunnel might be long, but there is light at the end if you look carefully.
Poor Eloise can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, her little doggie brain really only allows her to live in the moment which can definitely be a good thing, but when you face dark times; like this morning’s rain storms, isn’t it a gift to know that the sun will shine again, that the flowers and trees will look all the more beautiful in the Spring thanks to this morning’s rain, that sometimes there is joy in curling up on the couch under a warm blanket with your cup of coffee. That there is joy in the dark when you plug in the Christmas lights and light a few candles or take a few moments to bake a rum cake for a colleague that has worked so hard and put in extra hours, there’s joy for me in knowing that this small gift will bring her joy. I think it can be easy for us to be like Eloise and get stuck in where we are in the moment, to be mired down in the wet, cold, darkness. I know I can be guilty of this, of getting stuck in complete overwhelm, but then I find a moment of joy in time with my sister, a walk through our local nature preserve, or just being able to prioritize the things that do bring me joy.
Joy! 2020 has certainly not been a year full of joy for most of us; but I choose to believe that joy is still there. That at the end of the day the promise of the vaccines is good, that while we traverse this wilderness there is a promise that there will be a better tomorrow; that day by day the tunnel will get shorter; the storms will pass, the sun will shine and we will see the rainbow that symbolizes God promises of peace, hope, joy and love.