Three candles are lighted for this week of Advent. Light is increasing, but still not fully illuminating, so as hearing and touch have been increasing my awareness of Holy Presence these past two weeks, so this week the scents of the season call my attention. In our house we have the paternal legacy of Swedish glogg as it simmers, and occasionally there are the aromas of breads or rolls, even meals being roasted for guests, so long absent from our table. There is a turning, although tentative, from the long austere absence of communal sharing of coffee and goodies into small, but welcome, breaking of bread, and porring of wine together into this bleak midwinter. And what Joy that brings!
On the third week of Advent we light the Joy candles for Gaudete Sunday, a joyful pink explosion into the waiting dark, a respite from the reality of the gloom and sadness, if even for a moment. It is promissory, but welcome , as are the smells of greenery, candles, fireplaces and hot drinks on the stove, a reminder and hope of what is yet to come. Howard Thurman, pastor and prophet writes, “I will light the Candle of Joy, despite all sadness…,” and that prompts me, when I am lighting the candles around my house, and inhale breaths of vanilla, pine, winterberry and peppermint, to sense and trust that the Christ Child is indeed coming: “Live in love, as Christ loves us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering…” Eph. 5:2
The Light is increasing, and so is Hope and Peace and Joy, even though it comes in wisps of fragrance, in shimmers of softness, in snippets of song, that are fleeting and ephemeral. I wait, and am comforted by the reminders in my senses of the One who is coming and the One who has come!
Maya Angelou tells us that, “We need Joy as we need air…” May the Joy of the Lord be our strength in these Advent waiting days!