2 of 7: JOY. Christmas brings all types of JOY. For me one of the most enJOYable aspects is the music. Raised in the traditional church and in a musical family, a mosaic of music was being created internally before I was born. The unusual thing (I was to find out later) was the depth of my exposure to all kinds of genre. Gospel, country, bluegrass,pop, classical…didn’t matter…we had it all, and I absorbed all those little colorful tiles and created an even larger internal masterpiece.
“Jesu, JOY of man‘s desiring,
Holy wisdom, love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
Soar to uncreated light.”
As I was starting to write tonight an old memory that I hadn’t thought of for years popped onto my visual screen. Thursdays were always Loudonville United Methodist Church choir practice nights. Even after a long day of delivering dry cleaning, mom would bundle me up and off we would go. In the spring or fall, we would sometimes walk the couple of blocks to church (if dad needed the car). Christmas practices were – however, the best. They were often longer and more intense. The church would be decked out in its greenery, a little chilly perhaps, but never for long. The altar light, the choir loft’s lights, sconces on the walls, the rolling vibrations of my God mother practicing the organ, the soft laughter and conversation of adults enjoying time together would roll over me as I lay on the padded bench reading a book, writing a letter to my pen pals, or just thinking. Wrapped in my mother’s seal skin coat (that she got from her mother, and that I still have stashed in my closet), I would nestled down – warm, content and filled with JOY beyond understanding..
“Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings;
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of JOY from deathless springs.”
As I look back at it tonight, I realize this memory was one of heaven’s touchstones in my life.. Rev Merlin Vining coming out of his office to sit beside or on a bench in front of me…sometimes talking, but mostly, just listening…soaking in God’s JOY…together. When I was alone, I just thought about God, the stain glass windows, the harmonies, the words or the background information that J.M. Day (high school band director at the time) would give about the music. Sooner or later, I would drift off to sleep, and mom would be waking me up. Still bundled in her coat, she would hustle me to the car and to bed once we got home. It is this deep JOY that continues to feed my soul and shines outward through my internal mosaic.
“Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of JOYS unknown.” translated by Robert Bridges (1844-1930)