A week of pink and joy
My roommates and I hosted a party last Sunday. We called it Gaudete Partaytay. (All day day, we claimed.) Everyone wore pink. We served shrimp and salmon dip, pink lemonade and guava margaritas, pink meringues and grapefruit. We blew up pink balloons and hung pink streamers and set out pink plates and cups and silverware. It was magical.
So, maybe it was a silly title for a party of adults. Maybe the setup would have been better suited for a two-year-old girl’s birthday party. But maybe, too, it was one of my favorite parties I’ve ever thrown. And maybe (here’s hoping) it was just the first annual, the first of many Guadete Partaytays to come. You know why it all matters? Joy.
It just hit me the other day: this, this Gaudete week of joyful expectance, is my new favorite week of the year. And Advent is my new favorite season. Yes, I know, we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song. I’m not trying to steal St. Augustine’s thunder here. But you know what else must be true? We are an Advent people, and Gaudete is our song. We are waiting and longing, hoping and watching, for Jesus to come. And not just at Christmastime, but each day of our lives. That ache must carry us to heaven. And while the ache may bring sorrow and pain and persistent suffering, it must be accompanied by that most necessary joy that comes from the Lord Himself.
Of course, it’s easier said than lived. This week, both in our secular culture and among Christians, can feel awfully rushed, stressful, consumeristic. It’s hard to suspend our rejoicing at the birth of Jesus when we are thrust, even willingly, into the passing pleasure of that elusive “holiday spirit.” I am just as prone to this as the next person. But, when I recall the true nature of Advent joy, I can rest easy.
The beauty of this Advent season, I find, is in its call to be and receive, not do and accomplish. “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” said Mary, “Let it be done to me according to your word.” God bestows on Mary the joy of receiving Jesus, and she responds with perfect receptivity. So, too, are we called to fully embrace the joy God has in store for us. We don’t go about earning this joy, or working for it, or manufacturing it. It doesn’t come and go with our passing moods and preferences. It remains because it is from Him. Caryll Houselander puts it this way:
Joy must be allowed to gestate. Everyone should open his heart very wide to joy, should welcome it and let it be buried very deeply in him; and he should wait for the flowering of it with patience. Of course, the first ecstasy will pass, but because in real joy Christ grows in us, the time will come when joy will put forth shoots and the richness and sweetness of the person who rejoiced will be Christ’s flowering.
I want to live my life like that. I want to open my heart wider and wider to Jesus and the joy He brings. I want to rejoice, not just in the delight of a party of pink, but in the quietness and hiddenness and growing longing of this Advent season, this Advent life. And I hope, each day until my last, Gaudete will be my song.
How about you? How’s your Advent season been? We’ve got three days left of joyful waiting—and, really, a lifetime. Let’s rejoice in that.