It doesn’t seem like joy should be complicated, but sometimes it is. Opening to joy, our theme for December, indicates there is something we can do to increase the likelihood that we will experience joy, and I think that’s true. As we approach another pandemic winter, making a practice of opening to joy might be more important than ever.

Pandemic winter is a strange season. Last pandemic winter, I felt joy less frequently than usual, but when it came, I felt it more acutely and appreciatively, recognizing how it felt like grace into a time of sorrow and loneliness. This inspired me to practice looking for and noticing joy more often. For example, I notice a burst of joy inside when I see your dear faces on Zoom or during our outdoor worship services. I notice joy when observing the beauty of nature on my daily walks. I reminisce about joy in times past – winters of skiing, snowshoeing, skating, building snow forts, making snow angels. I feel joy when talking to a friend or greeting a neighbor. Simple things like singing around the house give me unaccountable joy.

When do you feel joy? What are you doing when you feel joy? If you can identify it, do more of it, as long as it doesn’t harm you or others. Let yourself feel joy and appreciate it because sometimes it is fleeting.

Christmas scriptures and music often use the word “behold.” My practice of opening to joy involves beholding what brings joy. Behold. Stop. Notice. Feel joy. It’s OK to open to joy, even if it brings tears.

Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister

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