Rejoice! Somebody is shouting for joy…

Somebody is shouting for joy
not because they can see the joy
not because they can feel the joy
but because they believe in joy.
And so they shout to the trees
the leaves, the hills and valleys.
They shout to the mountains, sand and everything
that sees or breathes the living air
Everything that lives,
everything that moves
or grows, or stands or lifts its hands up
in sunshine morning glory.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Not because there’s any reason
Because sometimes, it’s true, there’s not
Rejoice in the storying of hoping,
not because of any reason whatsoever,
but because of joy, because of hope
because survival must mean something more than coping
Rejoice! Rejoice! Our day of storytelling will come around again.
Rejoice! We must make it. Rejoice!
– Pádraig Ó Tuama

How do tangible things create an intangible feeling of joy? Ingrid Fetell Lee asks this question in her book, Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness.

Fetell Lee, a Brooklyn designer and writer, observes the joy stirred by all sort of encounters in the material world: “Gazing at a favorite painting in an art museum or making a sandcastle at the beach, people smiled and laughed, lost in the moment. They smiled, too, at the peachy light of the sunset and at the shaggy dog with the yellow galoshes… They tended rose gardens, put candles on birthday cakes, and hung lights for the holidays.”

I am inspired by Fetell Lee’s conclusion that joy is available to us in the everyday world we inhabit through all sort of experiences. She contends that we can live with intention and even “design for joy” in our environs to open ourselves to its possibility in nearly endless encounters.

I believe joy is integral to our resilience as human beings. It is something essential to our lives, even though at times joy can be difficult for us to access or even accept as being possible.
At Christmas, we tell the story of God coming to inhabit the world with us. God becomes human with us, walks with us, stands with us, and points to the fullness possible in this life. It is such surprising news every Christmas –Jesus is born and we hear that God has not given up on us and has not abandoned the world to itself. There is a promise inherent in this word: joy is possible in this life – surprising intrusions of buoyancy that strengthen and quicken us as we walk on.

This Christmas, I pray we be open to the possibility of joy. Because, in the words of the Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, “Survival must mean something more than coping.” Joy comes to us, and it invigorates our lives to keep going.

“Rejoice! We must make it. Rejoice!”

With you this Christmas,
The Rev. R. Scott Painter,
Christmas 2023