If you attend a church that observes the liturgical calendar, this previous weekend you could have noticed the sanctuary decorated with flowers, clergy clad in pink vestments, and the organist could have been permitted her opportunity at that instrumental solo she has been longing to launch into.
But why? Are not we observing Lent — a season for the losers?
The fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare or “Rejoicing” Sunday. In the midst of the season of discipline and repentance, this day is devoted to getting pleased. The theme for the day is derived from the introit to the mass: “Rejoice, O Jerusalem: and come collectively all you that really like her: rejoice with joy, you that have been in sorrow: that you could exult and be filled from the breasts of your consolation.”
But why ought to one particular encounter joy in a season of such sorrow? It is a burst of hope in the midst of a extended stroll, a reminder that Easter Sunday is only 3 weeks away. This is a living reminder that our journey is not aimless or endless. We are comforted in being aware of that with every single day we draw closer to that triumphal celebration of the defeat of Death itself.
The command to rejoice does some thing in particular useful for these of us in distress. As I have stated just before, discomfort and suffering isolate us simply because our affliction is so true and undeniable and quick, we are naturally persuaded to concentrate on it. And that path requires us deeper into dark areas in ourselves exactly where it is not normally healthful to go — in particular alone.
Dwelling on our hurts — as if that is all we had been — not only robs us of hope in the future, but, far worse, it robs us of our investment in the valuable present. By failing to encounter joy, even in the midst of crappy instances, we can be engulfed totally by our situations.
But it want not be so. We do not have to decrease ourselves to somebody who exists only to endure hardship. In our suffering we need to not exile ourselves from the really like of God or of our every day joys.
If we rejoice in all the capabilities and possibilities that stay with us — from sitting with a coffee for a minute in the sunshine to acquiring the appropriate word for a bit of function we’ve been fussing more than — we can grab the present by the scruff of the neck and smile — being aware of no matter how diminished we may be by illness or horrible circumstance, we are not completed, not by a extended shot. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. And that is worth celebrating.
As the good nation and western song says, “I could be utilized, child, but I ain’t utilized up.” Tennyson’s “Ulysses” says it a tad extra elegantly:
Tho’ considerably is taken, considerably abides and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are
One particular equal temper of heroic hearts,
Produced weak by time and fate, but sturdy in will
To strive, to seek, to come across, and not to yield.
That which we are, we are — so considerably extra than that cruel loss we suffered, so considerably extra than that undeserved blood clot. We are parents, siblings, buddies, colleagues, citizens, creators, or carpenters with some thing but to do and give.
There are lonely folks out there who want our comfort. There are young people who want our drop of wisdom. There are babies that are crying to be changed and dogs to be taken for their walks. Create a letter of gratitude to an old teacher or create a letter of complaint to an errant politician. Recognize that there will normally be an additional season of “The Bachelor” that you can watch and be judged for it by folks of superior taste.
Rejoice that the day is not but performed, and marvelous, exclusive you is right here to use every single drop of it.