and last years not very pleasant word, which in February I claimed as PAIN in this blog post.
Imagine my surprise when this year, some time in November, a word found me. early. Well before the new year. I became certain that my word for the year is JOY. Everywhere I looked...JOY. Definitely JOY.
One day, flipping through a catalog, I saw a Christmas wreath that spelled...JOY! I was delighted by the idea of seeing my word of the year on the door every day so I placed my order and looked forward to the arrival of JOY with great anticipation.
But JOY did not come. Other items I ordered from this company arrived but no JOY. I called the catalog company and was told JOY was being shipped directly to me from a third party....it is supposed to ship the very next day, the woman on the phone told me. Yay! I waited a week but still no JOY....
In an attempt to be clever on Facebook, I posted a status that said, "My JOY is on backorder." A friend called, concerned about me. Not to worry, I told her, I was trying to be funny but the conversation did get me thinking....WAS my "joy" on backorder? I didn't think so....granted, I was experiencing some challenges but I had also noticed many small, exquisite moments of JOY this advent season.
Like cookie baking with my family...
and discovering our little park lined with luminaria, a gift from neighbors...
and listening to the children sing....
There were more moments of JOY than I can begin to document here but still, no package containing JOY arrived. I placed another call to the company. The woman who answered was very polite and helpful. I wondered if my order had been cancelled. She told me that the only information they could get out of the supplier was that JOY would indeed be shipped and would arrive before Christmas but she had no other information. We had a cordial conversation....I mused out loud about perhaps buying a substitute wreath for the door....she said she completely understood and would be happy to cancel the order so I would feel free to buy something else. But I decided that I would really like to wait and see if JOY would arrive.
Every day during my quiet time, I reflected on the missing JOY. I wondered if I was being stubborn and insistent but it didn't feel like that was the case. Then, I was given the honor of helping to lead a Longest Night Service of Healing and Remembrance. The service was held on the winter solstice...the longest night. There, among those who openly acknowledged their suffering and sadness and yet still sang together, even as they cried, I felt joy mixed with sadness.
Light amidst the brokenness...
I decided that the best we can really do is to try to leave space for joy.
And I decided to see my wreathless front door as just that.....not missing anything.....but expectant with plenty of room for JOY, whenever it arrived, if it arrived.
The next day, a friend stopped by for coffee. She came bearing sweet gifts....a beautiful coffee mug inscribed with the words "Comfort and Joy"
and a box of special tea, named "Warming Joy."
I laughed with delight...my friend had NO idea I was waiting for JOY and she did not know about my word of the year. I wondered if the message was that JOY will show up if you leave room....but perhaps not in the way you are expecting it. I left the house content with the JOY I received.
And then, on the day after the Longest Night, just like that.....JOY arrived.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it."
Wishing you joy and peace this holiday season but if that will not come for you this year, praying for you to know that you are not alone, until the light comes again.
peace and every good and much love to each of you,
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