GREAT MORNING BELOVED!!
Welcome to our 4th Sunday of Advent, Joy. Now all our candles are lit. Hope/Faith, Peace, Love and now, Joy.
I hope as we have brought each candle to life, you too, were feeling that emotion? And maybe, sharing that feeling with a season, it made it even more memorial.
Let’s get to the Joy in Autumn.
We all have experienced ‘growth opportunities’ with this pandemic and all that it has brought to us. I say growth opportunities because if we look back, we are bound to have learned a lesson or two, maybe more, that will aid us in our future.
We certainly learned a lot here at the Spiritual Center… how to do Services virtually and all the different ways we could reach out to our people and the greater community.
And, spiritually, emotionally, and sometimes, physically, we’ve learned a lot too. Many of us are still working through some of those issues. Please reach out to me, or the prayer chaplains, if you could use a helping hand.
When we light the Advent candle for joy, we remind ourselves of the spiritual truth of this season: “Unto us a child is born.”
In telling the Christmas story, the Gospel writers remind us that when things seem darkest, joy can come in unexpected places and small packages.
Children are great reminders to us of the joy of playing, giving, learning, and loving. In the presence of such joy, our inner child can awaken our Christ nature and then we are reborn in the teachings of our brother and way-shower, Jesus.
Joy is almost contagious. If you feel joy spreading out from your friends and family, it’s very difficult to fight it. It spreads from within, soon to fill you with feeling joyful along with them.
Christmas is not an event that happens only in December or 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. Christmas happens as we open to the possibility of hope, when we live in the understanding of peace, and when we give and receive love.
The joy that is Christmas—the birth of the Christ, happens all the time, every minute of every day. It happens when we smile as we pass our neighbors, as we let a driver in the flow of traffic, when we open the door for a stranger, when we buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line, when we hold a pet close to our hearts. It happens in so many ways when we open our hearts, as they naturally spread love to our world.
As the days get shorter and darkness seems to close in, we light the candle for joy to remind ourselves of the power and presence within us. Then we celebrate the season with newfound glee. Keeping our hearts open, keeping connected to our higher power within, this is Christmas.
Joy to the world, the Savior is here and has been here all along, the Christ within us all. We are our saviors, each individual one of us as we open our hearts to the Divine within us. We are made in the image & likeness of the Creator. When we get connected and keep connected, we save ourselves by being One with all.
I truly believe Happiness can fade, but joy does not. Joy comes from a deeper, more profound place of connection with the Divine in all its expressions.
Most of us want more joy and happiness and, in our humanness, we are often deluded into looking for it from things and people outside of us. But joy is within, and it’s always there. There is no ‘more joy’ it’s just us, letting it shine through.
In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama explains how to cultivate joy.
“Joy is the reward, really, of seeking to give joy to others. When you show compassion, when you show caring, when you show love to others, do things for others, in a wonderful way you have a deep joy that you can get in no other way. You can’t buy it with money. You can be the richest person on Earth, but if you care only about yourself, I can bet my bottom dollar you will not be happy and joyful. But when you are caring, compassionate, more concerned about the welfare of others than about your own, wonderfully, wonderfully, you suddenly feel a warm glow in your heart, because you have, in fact, wiped the tears from the eyes of another.”
Joy can be felt in a connection with other people, with nature, and with other beings. It is the wonder, the delight, the welling up of loving energy—so that we feel our connection with God in all its forms—that brings forth the light of the soul as joy. It can be the joy of the first snowfall, the first signs of spring, the birth of a child, the stars at night. It is seeing the miracle of life and celebrating it.
“Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
And since God is everywhere present, that joy can be brought forth just by noticing, and appreciating what is all around you.
And that is how we can associate autumn with joy.
Close your eyes for a moment. Now connect with your inner child and recall the joy you felt as you walked through the leaves that have fallen, going out of your way to kick them up in the air. I actually do this when I walk the dogs, there one area when the road is filled with the leave from the nearby trees. I try not to kick the leaves too much, don’t want the leaves too far out on the road, they can be dangerous for bikers.
Or recall jumping into the big pile that was just raked together by Mom or Dad or big brother or sister. The laughter following you as you sink into the center, maybe your dog joining you barking and running over and over again.
Maybe you even did this as a young adult too. Not so much now for me, but many of you can still replay that scene and be able to get up again!
That is joy.
Autumn is also a teacher of change. School and work resume, and soon the year begins to wind down. Following the harvest, the growing season ends, and we enter a period of slowing down. The autumnal equinox is a perfect time to meditate on balance.
Autumn invites you to reflect on your priorities. It’s an opportunity for metamorphosis, a chance to liberate yourself from outdated beliefs, resentments, or relationships. Ask yourself, “What are my burdens? How can I release them?” Autumn offers a deeper experience of your own transformation and spirituality.
As the leaves flutter from the branches, we too can let go of those people, places, things, events that no longer serve us. And when we finally let go of that pain, that thought, that scene locked in our mind, we will feel joy bubbling from within because you have taken a step toward freedom from your past. A step to wholeness on this physical plane.
We’ll prepare for the Burning Bowl in a couple of weeks. Keep in mind what you wish to release.
SO yes, Autumn is a season of change. And if we use it as an example, we can note how easy it is to change. It’s letting go and letting God. The seasons are governed by the laws of our planet’s tilt with regards to the sun.
If we would go with the flow, so to speak, as our seasons do, we would BE the spiritual person filled with love that we truly are. Easy, right? Unfortunately, & fortunately, we have choice, free will. That can mess us up and our spiritual journey thrown off course just as it provides us with opportunities to grow.
When we notice nature, as we have through this Advent Season, we can see that following the flow of natural law would be a great way to keep us on the spiriual path through all seasons, no matter the ‘growth opportunity’.
We have seen an example of transformation with each season, with each Advent …..
Autumn, one of learning to let go when it’s right, winter; a time to go within and allow transformation to take its place in our being, spring; a time for planting our new seeds of being who we want to be, summer; growth but also fun, leisure time, warmth.