There’s nothing like mass on Christmas Eve. Luckily they’re not all like the year the organ was smokin’, and it wasn’t because Sister Bernadine’s fingers were really fast and the music was hot. After the organ was unplugged and the windows opened, we sang carols acappella.
Most are like this past Christmas Eve. Midnight mass is the beautiful, sensory culmination of the four weeks of Advent. This year, in addition to the organ there was a brass section so priests, deacons and altar servers entered to O Come All Ye Faithful amid the blasts of trumpets and trombone. Instead of soft pink or subdued purple vestments, gold sparkled under the lights. Red and white poinsettias filled the space in front of the altar, and at specific times incense filled our nostrils. As always, I was awed to tears. For me, midnight mass is that moment of transition between anticipation and joy.
It’s like waiting for a bride to appear and watching her walk down the aisle to finally meet her groom. Joy enters in that hushed ‘wow’ moment. It’s not excitement, it’s elevated happiness.
And the year the organ smoked? There was joy that year too. In fact, that little glitch is one of the reasons there was joy. It added just the right amount of levity, once we knew the organ was only smoking and not a full-fledged fire, to remind us no matter how well we plan, things can still go wrong. Mass was still celebrated. Carols still sung. We left the church under a canopy of shining stars. Moments of joy found.
I know that’s not easy for everyone. I have family and friends who would never use joyful to describe themselves. And I know the distinction is starker during the holidays. I wish I could box up a portion and gift it to them, but I can’t.
How some people find it and others can’t always puzzles me. My good friend Sue has lost several family members this year and a beloved pet during the holidays, is holding vigil with her mother-in-law, and watched the Tennessee wildfire flames lick the edges of her holler, packed and ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. And yet, even amid her truly deep sorrow, there is a glint of joy in her emails and Facebook posts. She’s not a Pollyanna. But somehow she’s able to dig deep and find that spark and hold on tight.
For the coming year I hope we all – no matter how easy or difficult – find a nugget of joy to hold on to. Whether joy comes in the beauty of a ceremony or a moment in nature, amid the messiness of imperfection or like this bit of whimsy, may we seek it.
This really has nothing to do with the passing of Carrie Fisher. Honestly. Hubby is one of those who has difficulty during the holidays, but when we saw this in a store, Yoda was coming home with us. He greets all our guests at the front door and they can’t help but smile. So since this has nothing to do with Princess Leia, I won’t write what many of you have already said.
But what a force joy can be.