I missed a day, didn’t I? I missed posting a poem or two. Missed the moments of pause to take in Advent and to breathe the joy in. Missed a few of the steps in the walk toward Christmas morning.
I am always amazed at the busyness of life. I’m not sure why, because life has been busy for ages for us, and yet it still confounds me. Still frustrates me that I cannot slow things down and still embrace all the activities that are necessary and enjoyable.
Sometimes I stumble upon something, however, which infuses life again into the busyness. Something which makes the heart beat with anticipation and joy.
They go hand-in-hand, don’t they? Joy is slippery, though…we always struggle to define that elusive quality. We know it when it wells up within us, though. We know when our hearts are caught in trying to expand to contain the touch of heaven…
“I do think that while we are in this “valley of tears,” cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous. . . . It is only in our “hours-off,” only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy [to the joys of heaven]. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for “down here” is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were placed here to live. But in this world everything is upside down. That which, if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.” – C.S. Lewis
Necessary frivolity. Those moments of rest. And for those who help to usher in that ‘frivolity’ it is far more than game and festivity. Hours of discipline and study and inspiration come together to provide what may be rest or escape for the rest of us.
Like last night. In a home, the North Wind Manor, which also offers itself as the headquarters for the Rabbit Room activities, we were treated to a simplicity and frivolity that ushered in the joy of the season.
Make no mistake: it was not unimportant. It was necessary, and yet it was gift.
Chesterton on joy:
“Joy, which was the small publicity of the Pagan, is the gigantic secret of the Christian. And as I close this chaotic volume [Orthodoxy], I open again the strange small book from which all Christianity came; and I am again haunted by a kind of confirmation.
“This tremendous figure which fills the Gospels towers in this respect, as in every other, above all the thinkers who ever thought themselves tall.
“His pathos was natural, almost casual. The Stoics, ancient and modern, were proud, proud of concealing their tears. He never concealed His tears; He showed them plainly on His open face at any daily sight, such as the far sight of His native city. Yet He concealed something . .
“Solemn Supermen and Imperial Diplomatists are proud of restraining their anger. He never restrained His anger. He flung furniture down from the steps of the Temple and asked men how they expected to escape the damnation of Hell. Yet He restrained something . . .
“I say it with reverence — there was in that shattering personality a thread that must be called shyness.
“There was something that He hid from all men when He went up a mountain to pray.
“There was something that He covered constantly by abrupt silence or impetuous isolation.
“There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth, and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth.”
If God did restrain the joy of heaven…He did at least give us glimpses. Last night we caught another:
Oh, this post is getting long, isn’t it? Difficult for me to be concise with words when joy is still so present. Eager for worship this morning as another step toward Christmas morning is taken. Hope. Peace. Love. Joy.
Let’s not let our hearts grow colder…let’s make room for the presence of joy this season. I didn’t forget, I still have a poem for today:
The Birth of Wonder
by Madeleine L’Engle
As I grow older
I get surer
Man’s heart is colder,
His life no purer.
As I grow steadily
I come less readily
To Christmas each year.
I can’t keep taking
Without a thought
And presents bought
In crowds and jostling.
Alas, there’s naught
In empty wassailing
Where oblivion’s sought.
Oh, I’d be waiting
With quiet fasting
A joy more lasting.
And so I rhyme
With no apology
During this time
Judgment and warning
Come like thunder.
But now is the hour
When I remember
An infant’s power
On a cold December.
Midnight is dawning
And the birth of wonder.
No forced merrymaking here…thankful to Michael Card, Jeff Taylor and Buddy Greene for helping usher in a joy more lasting:
(By the way…these three are doing this concert in a few places. Kansas City on Dec 14, Dallas on Dec 18, Prosper, Tx on Dec 19. If you are anywhere near these places make sure you go!)