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finding joy in the holidays

Posted by Laura McCullough on

where are we searching?
where are we reaching?
who do we have our eyes set on
to give us what we need
and provide for every space where we lack?

It used to be joy just appeared.

They said it was the season of joy
and we believed them.

The stockings were hung
by the chimney with care,
the trees were lit up,
faces wore smiles
and presents appeared
where there were none before.
travels were made
and tables were laid
with an abundance of the yummiest treats.
and it snowed at the perfect time
for christmas to be white
and sleigh bells to ring
and wintry wonderlands
to delight.

but then…

that little girl wonder and belief
gave way to being the mom
whose responsibility it is
to make everyone else believe
there is joy in the season
and laughter fills the corners
of every room.
and to be honest, it’s not an easy job,
this joy-making role.
it’s tiresome and tedious
and not as fun as it used to seem
when it was someone else’s
responsibility
and someone else’s
cross to bear.

now i find myself wondering--

where is the wonder
and where is the charm
and how do i find
that season of joy?

how do i give
what i don’t feel
or at least
how do i get it
so i can fulfill this role
i now own?

there must be a source.

a place where women from
ages and ages before us
went to find the strength to be
who they needed to be.
a deep, unending well
that gives life to every woman
who draws near
and fills her cup
with the exact measure
of water she needs
to survive.

and not just to survive
but to thrive
in this season
of joy-giving.

and there is a source,
a well where joy never runs dry.

the water
is life giving
and at once fully joy
and king of joy
and the one who shares
of that joy
with those who sit with him
and allow themselves to
be filled.

so this is the greatest challenge…
learning to draw from the well
of the one
who promises to give
abundantly,
the well that our mothers and sisters
and women all the way back to mary
went to for sacred fuel.

and i’m convinced
this is the key to finding
joy in the holidays...

i must go where there is joy,
be filled with it,
and let it overflow
from my heart
to those around me.

so how?

we must give attention to our postures
through contemplative practice
and learning to be present
with Jesus
so that we know
he is present with us.

for some it means stillness,
simply stopping.
stop the doing and striving
and being in control
and be still with God,
releasing control to him
and then returning
to engage with our work.

for some it means solitude,
simply releasing people
from our need for their approval
and instead getting away
to a solitary space
for five minutes or ten or an hour
and focusing our thoughts
on relationship with him,
knowing we have his approval,
and then connecting with the people
in our lives in healthier ways.

and for some it means silence,
turning down inner noise and outer chaos,
ending the searching and worrying,
letting God speak while we listen,
then engaging with our life noise
in better, holier ways.

it’s in these times of soul nurturing
that our bodies are calmed,
emotions are stilled,
our minds are quieted,
and we are led on paths of freedom.

this is the meaning of advent,
the focusing of our minds
on the coming of Jesus
as a baby
and his promise to come again
when he says it’s time.

advent gives us space
to be still or away or quiet
and hear the voice of love
fill our hearts with joy.

it is in his presence
that we practice letting go
and receive…

receive freedom.
receive favor.
receive joy.

and as we practice receiving from God
we find ourselves
women ready to give
out of the overflow of our hearts,
no longer scraping the sides
of wells gone dry
but giving our loved ones
what is most precious
because we have met him first
by ourselves.

that is joy.
that is the holiday.
that is Jesus.

may we be women who rest in him.

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