I'm home for the holidays! I've been waking up in my own bed, scrambling eggs while looking out at the bay, and playing lots and lots of Skyrim. It's wonderful.
I've also managed to get the Advent order wrong, which I discovered in church this morning when the speaker said "On this day, the third Sunday of Advent, we light the candle of Love." Shoot. Well, I'll have to make up for that by talking about joy today, which is what I should have done last week.
It's hard to talk about joy right now. Last week there were two mass shootings, one of which left twenty young children dead (my mother gasped that "they were just babies"). The weekend has been dominated by conversations about mental illness and fights about gun control. More generally, many people are still jobless and may not be able to give their kids a holiday experience they think they should have. Life doesn't stop just because a holiday happens.
But I think it's good to talk about joy, especially because there's so much crap in the world.
Joy is waking up to see the sun shining through your window, or hearing rain hitting your roof after a drought, or seeing the first flakes of snow.
Joy is being wrapped up in the arms of someone who loves you.
Joy is finally getting hired.
Joy is the cancer going away.
Joy is hearing the first cries of your child after hours of effort.
Life is not made up entirely of joy, but joy is what makes life worth living. When we have those moments, it keeps the darkness at bay.
Christians and 50s crooners sing "Joy to the World, the Lord is come". What we celebrate during Christmas is the arrival of the Divine incarnate. The birth of this little Jewish boy who will grow up to teach love and forgiveness in a culture which abided by the Hammurabi Code of eye for an eye. This poor kid who would go from being a carpenter to spreading the message that the last would be first, the first would be last, and that the ideal world is not one of hierarchy but equality and justice. That's something worth celebrating.