Thursday, December 14, 2017
Joy, and the rose-coloured Advent candle...
There’s a special “joy” in winter paddling. The ocean is crystal clear, the shoreline feels unexplored, the air is bracing, and there’s that delicious sense of “aloneness” in nature. The seals and otters and marine birds sometimes seem surprised that we are there! They show very little anxiety.
This coming Sunday is the Third in the Season of Advent, a month-long season of spiritual preparation for Christmas. In some traditions, it’s called “Gaudete” Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word that means “rejoice” and we look forward to lighting the cheerful rose-coloured candle on the Advent wreathe. It is the symbol of “joy”. Despite the worries of our personal lives, and the often heartbreaking headlines, we need so very much to maintain a sense of joy in life. It is that abiding sense of contentment, delight, and enthusiasm for life. It feels so good…and it strengthens us, sustains us, and carries us through challenging times.
It could be said that sadness is the opposite of joy. I believe, however, that the opposite of joy is fear or anxiousness. If we think about it, these are the things that overwhelm our joy. The older I get, the more I am convinced that there is a four-part “recipe” for maintaining a sense of joy in our living.
First, we need to be playful, for that is what connects us to the “child“ within, a child we must always honour. Second, we need to be “pliable”, open to new ideas, change, and new growth. That’s what gives us the resilience of a giant tree in a windstorm. Third, we need to take time throughout the day to be contemplative. Some will understand this as prayerful, but it is also meditation. It is living mindfully, and paying attention to the fullness of each present moment. Lastly, we need to be thankful, for then we see life, one another, and the universe in terms of abundance, not scarcity. This can be exhilarating, and life-giving in itself.
All of this may be simple, but, it is admittedly not always easy. As with any discipline, we get stronger every day as we work to nurture the joy that naturally resides within. It’s like winter paddling, it’s not the easiest time of the year to paddle, but it well may be the most satisfying.
Wishing you peace...and, of course, joy. 😊