Little Joys—Advent

Back in May, I asked my Facebook friends to share songs that celebrated the little joys of life. I asked because I was scared.

The frailty and finitude of life was right there, right in front of my face in the form of microcalcifications in my right breast. I waited a month for answers. In the dawn of rebirth, as everything around me began to blossom and turn green, every one of my hours was pressed upon by mortality. It doesn’t matter how full of life things seem right now, mortality whispered. This will all end soon.

To combat mortality’s raspy voice, I listened to little joys. I still am, adding almost daily songs that feel like celebrations of the glorious now. The playlist “Little Joys” comes from the Tom Rosenthal song recommended to me by Lydia. If you don’t know it, go listen to it, and watch the video too. It’s lovely.

The beginning of the video says the common mayfly only lives 24 hours. One day. “This old heart won’t turn into another, this old life won’t take me to another,” Tom sings. “Send me into the long night with all the little joys of the finite.”

Now, I do believe this life will take me to another… but I don’t know what that other life looks like, I only know the promises and joys of this life. There are so many little joys and wonders in this life, in this finite life, and I want to live celebrating them, engulfed by them, swimming in them, held by them, grateful for them. “Little Joys” became my waking and sleeping melody, every breath and interaction precious, temporary, love the lasting thread that connects all these little joys.

In June, I received the best news, no cancer, just a bunch of microcalcifications to keep an eye on, some little joys lodged in my bosom, all still there. Since then, I see little joys everywhere, in ritual and routine, in mundane places where the extraordinary isn’t supposed to be. For Tom Rosenthal, the little joys are enough. “When the darkness beats the bright… we’ll be alright, we’ll be alright, in the finite.”

But I don’t believe the darkness beats the bright in the vast and expanding cloak of eternity. The bright wins. The little joys are glimpses of that victory, now, microcalcifications embedded in the flesh of the finite.

The Bright Wins - sarahmariewells.com - woman staring at the sun through wintry trees

The advent season is upon us again. “Advent” literally means “coming” or “arrival.” For Christ followers, it is a season of anticipation and a season of celebration. Christ was born, Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. This is all our timeline, though, our tenses that identify a past, present, and future—kingdom of heaven here, kingdom of heaven to come. For God, all four of those statements are true simultaneously. The Light is complete and victorious, from the beginning of the age to the end of time.

Advent is our season to wait for the revelations of eternity to be made known in our bright and fleeting now.

To celebrate advent this year, I’m inviting you to join me in exploring the little joys of the finite. I think I could go on forever, looking closely at the molecules of things that bring me joy, but for now, I plan to take the next month leading up to Christmas—to the embodiment of all joy—to bear witness to and celebrate the little joys. I hope these joys that have filled an ache in me to overflowing will do at least a little bit of the same for you this holiday season.

Blessings on you and all of your little joys…

Sarah

Photo by Tobi

Published by Sarah M. Wells

Sarah M. Wells is the author of The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Gospels to Help Kids and Parents Love God and Love Others (2022), American Honey: A Field Guide to Resisting Temptation (2021), Between the Heron and the Moss (2020), The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture (2018), Pruning Burning Bushes (2012), and a chapbook of poems, Acquiesce, winner of the 2008 Starting Gate Award through Finishing Line Press (2009). Sarah's work has been honored with four Pushcart Prize nominations, and her essays have appeared in the notable essays list in the Best American Essays 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018. Sarah is the recipient of a 2018 Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She resides in Ashland, Ohio with her husband and three children.

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