18 December 2007

Happy happy versus joy joy

Something a dear friend once said has encouraged me many times when I've remembered it. It went something like, "It's not always possible to be happy, but it is always possible to be joyful," and by joyful he meant deeply trusting that God is in charge, has triumphed in Christ, and, in words that I like from a priest, "has already given us everything." Our culture prefers happiness, a fragile and fleeting and immediate thing, and that's why there's so much anxiety about doing everything necessary to have "happy" holidays. What makes me seem like a Scrooge sometimes (maybe, to some people) is that I don't want the happy, I want the joy--especially because the joy is already there, deep within, and we have only to let it well up, and we'll know what the Incarnation means...God is with us. We need not act like Christmas will be a failure if we don't do it right. It's been done right already! To me, one of the main messages of Advent is that it doesn't really end with Christmas, but the bigger and better Advent continues, and it's what we get to live through while knowing well how truly joyful the outcome will be. Great to know it doesn't depend on us.

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