Reflection by Jane Hale
How do you make time for Joy? Perhaps this is a trick question. As a Mom, a spouse, a student, and a minister in formation, some days—if I let it—my world can feel like an endless stream of boxes to check and deadlines to meet (not to mention dinners to cook, laundry to fold, homework to help with…the list goes on! Know the feeling?) Always looking to what’s next can be overwhelming and anything BUT joyful. Though sometimes I wish there were a magic joy capsule I could insert into my day, I have yet to discover anything that I can do that consistently helps me to set aside time for joy in the swirling chaos that life can become. What I can do, however, is to be intentional about remaining open to moments of joy and grace in the midst of it all. In Luke’s Gospel, it is from the crucible of the everyday-ness of life that joy bursts forth. The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy when Mary comes to visit (Luke 1:44), and it’s a rag-tag group of young shepherd boys watching their flocks by night who, in the midst of a rather terrifying visit from an angel, receive the news of great joy that the Messiah has come (Luke 2:10). Likewise, God seems to revel in surprising me with joy in conversations with my kids while we’re making dinner; in the ah-ha moments that emerge from tears during homework help; in sharing stories with folks at church, or in the coffee shop, or at the gas station, or on the streets; in holding the hand of a dying man as he smiles through his favorite hymn. Because joy resides in the moment—kindled by the folks I’m with right now, wherever right now happens to be—if I’m open to noticing that the whole world is infused with God’s grace and God’s love of joyful surprise. How can you be more open to joy?
Holy One, you are God of the mundane and the extraordinary. Open our hearts and help us to be fully present to others and to the world around us so that we might be surprised and blessed by the joy that erupts in our every-day lives. Amen.