Sunday 1

[Please note these adventapertures are a slow read.  Poetry and music, science and theology are mixed in with reflections on my personal spiritual journey.  Some days they may not an easy read either, as I try to share as honestly as I can all the bumps in my road to Joy.]

‘when they saw that the star had stopped they were overwhelmed by joy’ 

Matthew 2.10

To learn the scriptures is easy,

to live them, hard.

The search for the Real

is no simple matter.

Deep in my looking,

the last words vanished.

Joyous and silent,

the waking that met me there.

Lal Ded 

I come to writing these #adventapertures on joy with huge hesitancy in my gut.  I know this year has been so hard for so many because of the effects of COVID-19.  So many thousands have died, livelihoods have been shattered, businesses gone bankrupt, families split apart, so many women have been beaten, so many children left uneducated, so many young people left jobless and homeless.

And yet…

It is precisely at this point of being overwhelmed by the bleak negativity and hopelessness of humanity’s plight that I need to remember what joy might be.  Joy is not a fleeting emotion but a bone-deep unshakeable faith that such despair is not all there is to life.

As Eugenia Price says, ‘Joy is God in the marrow of our bones’ and Dom Marmion states, ‘Joy is the echo of God’s life in you.’

Several times this year I have written about how flabby my ‘rejoicing muscles’ are.  In Holy Week I wrote:

This psalmist runs to God for sanctuary:

Let all who seek you

rejoice and be glad in you.

(Psalm 70.4 NRSV)

Suddenly I am pulled up sharp by this reminder to rejoice.  In the midst of all my frantic need for real change of the situations I find myself in, I am asked to rejoice?

I am asked to rejoice in You.  I am asked to rejoice in Your steadfast love, in Your constancy, precisely at the very moment when I feel most in danger.  And in order to rejoice I have to stop my hamster-wheel anxiety and be still; become utterly present to the I AM.

You are my present.  Your presence with me is joy.  

All the faith and trust I ever might need is in that statement.  So I repeat that reconnection with Joy, again and again, growing gladness in me with every repetition.

In the midst of all my sorrows, God keeps calling me out to gladness: there are always, always, things to rejoice over, if I will but look.  

In July I wrote: 

I know that the counterbalance to this internal self-punishment is to look out – up or down, it doesn’t matter – and flex my rejoicing muscles.  For there is always something to be grateful for in my present, something praiseworthy will always be right in front of me.  God is always in my details.   Presence is always assured, and this moment of connection with thanksgiving is always certain and concrete.

At the Autumn Equinox I wrote:

And the best counter I know to perfectionism is the redemption of gratitude: ‘I will gather you to joy’ says ‘the searcher’ in Rilke’s poem.

Yet in spite of these clear signposts that God is trying to drum something into me, remembering to exercise my rejoicing-muscles has barely scraped a mention on the bottom of my list of priorities.  This journey into joy throughout Advent gives me a new opportunity to correct that and perhaps ingrain a practice in my marrow that will feed me and others through me for the rest of my life. Will you join me?

Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of


I, who don’t know the

secret, wrote

the line. They

told me

(through a third person)

they had found it

but not what it was

not even

what line it was.  No doubt

by now, more than a week

later, they have forgotten

the secret,

the line, the name of

the poem.  I love them

for finding what

I can’t find,

and for loving me

for the line I wrote,

and for forgetting it

so that

a thousand times, till death

finds them, they may

discover it again, in other


in other

happenings.  And for

wanting to know it,


assuming there is

such a secret, yes,

for that

most of all.             

‘The Secret’

Denise Levertov

exercising my rejoicing muscles II (2020). iPhone image.

Published by Kate Kennington Steer

writer, photographer and visual artist

2 thoughts on “Sunday 1

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts that connect with mine. Sisters across the world. You are ‘spotting’ me as I exercise my flabby joy muscles, encouraging me, cheering me on, holding me to account when my spirits flag. And I share my thoughts to connect with yours, with the same desire to uphold you.


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