December 2021

Joy is hard. And joy is worth the hard work of preparation.

Preparing oneself and setting down all the defenses

all the shoulds and could haves

all the should not haves and might haves.

Joy is worth the work.

You are worth the work.

You can start small:

the simple pleasure of your favorite tea,

the grand freedom of a full belly laugh.

Invite Joy to be your companion.

Joseph Cherry

Can we "invite joy to be our companion"? Can joy be a choice? A spiritual practice?

I’m experimenting, adding an invitation to joy into my daily attempts to notice at least one thing, one moment, or one person, for whom or which to be grateful. Starting small, with simple pleasures, such as...

We buy and decorate our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. The tree can feel a bit out of place in the presence of the Thanksgiving bouquet and the burnt-orange candles still gracing the dining room. This year, I’m choosing to take joy in the incongruity, laughing at myself for even noticing it.

As I unpacked for this year’s trimming I took joy in the memory of my mother's surprise first anniversary gift to us - two small boxes of ornaments, one containing ordinary colored balls, the other a small collection chosen with care. Her gift ended our debate about whether or not to bother with a tree. We bought a string of white lights, and made an unplanned visit to Massachusetts to cut a white pine in the meadow behind my father’s house. That began another tradition, one that lasted until the meadow became woods and the trees too big to bring indoors.

I’m experimenting to discover if joy is worth the work of preparation and putting down defenses, if and how it will be worth the work of letting go of what was, and finding the gift in what is. I suspect, if I sustain the practice, I will learn. Finding joy does not mean putting our heads in the sand and ignoring the world’s all too present woes. It may, in fact, be a path towards greater compassion and peace.

I wish you all joy in this holiday season. I continue to find it in being your minister.