Remember, if you want to read other posts of other bloggers, as we “pause in Advent” please go to Floss‘s blog. There you can find a link to everyone’s posts. Also, as I have two blogs, I’m joining in twice. You can read my other blog at Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner if you should feel so inclined.
Today, I’d like to reflect a little on last week’s word: JOY.
What is joy? I’ve pondered this through the week, trying to decide how it is different to “happiness”. I’m still not sure! Is it deeper seated than happiness? Being happy is perhaps more fleeting?
How is joyousness connected to my belief as a (slightly wobbly) Christian? Floss commented that despite her everyday problems of ill children, dogs and so on, joy was still there in her heart. Maybe it’s like the Celtic Christians of old, who had prayers for every moment of the working day: prayers for when they were milking the cows, for when they were sweeping the floor, and presumably for when they were clearing up sick, as well! Perhaps, if we can “dedicate” everything we do to God’s service, then it becomes somehow more “joyful”. My sister used to say how her MiL, a devout Northern Irish woman, would speak about “offering up” her trials and tribulations (as though God would be happy to deal with them on her behalf, I guess. Do you think he sends troups of angels to clear up after sick children?!) but that sounds a little bit too like being a martyr. “Offering up” conjures up images of washed out young women, clasping their hands to their bosom, and rolling their eyes heavenward.
But being joyous in one’s life, in everything that one does reminds me of the George Herbert poem, which is well known as a hymn, “Teach me, my God and King”
Teach me, my God and King,
in all things thee to see,
and what I do in anything
to do it as for thee.
A man that looks on glass,
on it may stay his eye;
or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
and then the heaven espy.
All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, “for thy sake,”
will not grow bright and clean.
A servant with this clause
makes drudgery divine:
who sweeps a room, as for thy laws,
makes that and the action fine.
This is the famous stone
that turneth all to gold;
for that which God doth touch and own
cannot for less be told.
If we look beyond the drudgery – or at least, the ordinariness - of our lives, then we will indeed find joy in what we do: joy because we serve God, we serve others, or just because, when it comes down to it, life itself is very often quite wonderful! It may be quite terrible too, or awesome (in the more original sense of the word), but it is the life that we have been given to live, and so perhaps we should try to seize it and to really live it for all we are worth.
And so, maybe we can apply this to Christmas and to Advent. As many of the bloggers are posting, we find the commercialism of Christmas can be quite distressing sometimes. We need to try very hard not to let our eyes stay on the “glass” of Yuletide, but pass beyond it to see the wonders of Christ’s Mass that lies beyond it all.
This week’s word: I’ve hummed over this. I have two words. one is and the other is
I’m not sure which I’ll end up thinking about this week. But my piece of music is one which, unlike last week’s, is not an “Advent” piece of music in any way. What it is is a beautiful song that reminds us that life is full of moments of pleasure and joy, and that we should hold onto these. It is Kate Bush’s masterpiece “Moments of Pleasure”. Please don’t think “Urgh, Kate Bush, she sang that squeaky song Wuthering Heights” and not listen. This is a poignant song which she wrote in the year following her mother’s death, and refers to friends and family that she has loved and lost.
Two parts of the lyrics I love. One, I am guessing, refers to her father, but it could be anyone:
…On a balcony in New York
It’s just started to snow
He meets us at the lift
Like Douglas Fairbanks
Waving his walking stick
But he isn’t well at all …
and the other, well…
Just being alive
It can really hurt
And these moments given
Are a gift from time
I give you: Kate Bush, singing Moments of Pleasure