Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Advent Joy

On Friday, I played piano for my hour from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Cancer Centre.  I was allowed (as I am this coming Friday) to play Christmas music.  I always choose soothing music mixed in with some upbeat music when I play background music at the Centre.  I decided to play some traditional Christmas carols but also some fun and quirky Christmas music such as "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth".  I wanted to impart some fun and joy into the atmosphere of a place where there is often sadness, grief and worry.

On Sunday, it was the week during Advent to focus on Joy.  Joy....how do people manage to feel joy during difficult times of ill health or unhappy family homes full of strife?  As I pondered this, I thought that joy doesn't necessarily mean happy.  Joy can be a very different emotion which is found deep in our core.  I remember worrying and feeling very anxious during the Advent season of 2011 when I knew I had cancer and by the week of "Joy", I knew it was lymphoma.  I just didn't know what kind of lymphoma.  I was still able to feel joy deep within when I was surrounded by my family.  When I received phone calls from extended family who live far away.

As we feel sad, worried or lonely, we can still feel joy from small moments of love and kindness that happen in our day.  Maybe it is a smile from a stranger.  Yesterday, I had a few moments of joy even as I've struggled with some new worries.  My day started with a ring of the doorbell.  There were some friends standing on the doorstep in -20 degree weather holding a poinsettia and a cookie tin full of cookies.  What a surprise and source of joy!  Yesterday I also drove 10 hours round trip to pick my son up and bring him home for Christmas.  It was wonderful to see him!  I was filled with a deep love and joy.  As I drove home and we got caught in traffic on the highway, my son fell asleep and I was still filled with joy as I remembered being pregnant with him almost 20 years ago.  As we stopped for dinner on the way home, we reminisced about his preschool days when he was a very busy, active little boy.  We laughed and I was filled with joy from the memories which at the time were actually very upsetting and worrisome.  Joy is found deep within.  Sometimes we have to look for it and consciously choose to tap into it.  On the other hand, sometimes we just have to be open to the small moments in life that give joy.  When I arrived home last night, there was a small package that had arrived at the house during the day.  It was addressed to me, so I opened it up.  What joy I received!!  Inside the box was a coffee mug with Hershey kisses and a couple of small candy canes.  I lifted the mug out and there was the real surprise and source of major joy!  On the outside of the mug is a picture of me holding a clam with my muddy hands!  My friends in PEI had a picture which was taken of me clam digging and they had it transferred onto the coffee mug!  What a wonderful gift!  An instant smile sprang to my face and I was filled with the warmth of love and joy!

As I said, sometimes we have to really look deep and hard to find a source of joy while we are going through adversities.  I totally understand this.  Not just from my more recent experience, but also in 1990 when my Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He spent Christmas in the hospital that year although they gave him a day pass to come home for a few hours.  We, as a family, were able to feel real joy that day.  My dad was able to feel joy that day too.  My future sister-in-law had been in contact with my sister, my oldest brother, my other brother (her fiancé) and me.  She arranged to bring a tuba (which my oldest brother used to play in high school), some music stands and some Christmas band music.  That particular day that my dad was home from the hospital, we went downstairs where there was more space and set up our instruments.  I played the flute, my sister played the trumpet, my brother (the fiancé) played the clarinet and my oldest brother tried to play the tuba while my future sister-in-law played the alto saxophone.  I remember as we tried to play, my oldest brother couldn't remember the fingerings for the tuba.  No problem.  My future sister-in-law was a music teacher and knew the fingerings so while my brother blew the tuba, she did the fingers on the valves.  We played Christmas carols.  I remember seeing the bright eyes and smile of my dad during a very difficult time.  You see, he knew that his lung cancer was terminal.  He was going to start chemotherapy over the holidays that year knowing that it was only a 30% chance that it might work.  But I can tell you that he felt great joy as we all gathered and played music.  Later that night when he returned to his room at the hospital, my future sister-in-law came in with her guitar and we all sang Christmas carols around his bed.  The nurses on the floor that night came in and listened.  There was pure joy even as we were all grieving and sad.  I remember singing Silent Night and crying as I watched him lying exhausted in bed.  But there was also joy that we were all together.  Sometimes you have to look hard for the joy and then hang onto those moments and memories.

So I hope that you may be touched with God's strong and joyful spirit this holiday season so that laughter, warmth, and delight in small things may fill your heart and soul.  I pray that we can all have joy that runs deeper than our sorrows and worries.  Hope, Peace, Joy.  These are the real gifts of the Christmas season and Advent.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Cathy! Enjoy the time with your son. It must be wonderful to have him home. Merry Christmas! Peace and joy to all of you!