Thursday, December 5

Ere Long Gaudete*

When my oldest was small and grew frantic about himself, I would wrap my arms around him and hold him fixed and give him time to agree with stillness.

And when I let go of his arms he breathed free from all the self-imposed frustration over people and expectations and self -- a toe-headed leader in 5T shorts newly able to direct his emotions toward meaningful things.

Today, I felt that relief.  When the snow came again, winter white hug from God, it stilled my soul. I quickly accepted the closeness, content to wane, and halted in order to receive.

There, waiting for me to grab hold again, was joy. 

When I watched the cold blanket fall and the inches build up against the stoop, I submitted to the Almighty agenda.  And I grew straight instead of scattered.  Because when I stick with his presence I stay the course of joy.

I remember, right after our world spun out of orbit, that there was a beautiful day when I had peace that was truly beyond my understanding.  For that one day I felt like a visiting sojourner in a place of contentment and faith and knowing; it was beautiful and light and welcome.  Rightly judged, in the following days I was back in the stampede toward grief and pain.  When I asked a friend to suggest what that day of peace was even about she said, "Sometimes God gives us glimpses of what wholeness will look like later."

Today is that later time.  And it isn't cursory.  I've been sitting on it, testing it, seeing if it's fleeting or fast.  It's actually been a succession of days now. A new way of seeing that I've known before.  When we pray so long for wholeness and lightness and satisfaction it feels a tremendous gift when it gallops back over after months afield in someone else's pasture.  A return of something that was always mine in the first place.  I lay it across my shoulders like the shepherd with a hundred sheep again.

The snow doesn't bring it.  It just reminds me that the joy is here whether I want to live in it or not.  Because we can choose to live outside of joy; to chase it with cheating, snap its hindquarter with the whip of obstinance, spook it with entitlement while it's on a loose rein.  But joy is really ever present even when our attention is given to fear and jealousy -- and people and expectations and self.
"For the one who pleases him, God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy.                              -- Ecclesiastes 2:26
Like all gifts, we receive it. When we open up our hands to joy we get wisdom and knowledge too.  And wisdom says that this is my right way to go: engage the meaningful work in front of me, be present with the small son finally reading, love the new church growing in my living room, light the advent candles, cherish the husband and be still.

I let it fall around me, everywhere, grateful for each flake.  Carefully designed to be my liturgy of joy.


*Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus                          Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born
Ex Maria virgine, gaudete!                                            
(Out) Of the Virgin Mary — rejoice!
Tempus adest gratiæ                                                  The time of grace has come—
Hoc quod optabamus,                                                  what we have wished for,
Carmina lætitiæ                                                          songs of joy
Devote reddamus.                                                       Let us give back faithfully.

......linking up with shelovesmagazine LinkUP: Joy