It is the season of advent. A time for coming out of the darkness. A season of hope, love, joy and peace.
I don't often have to go looking for these meanings of the season, they seem to just drop into my lap. Thursday, like I do every day of the school week, I walked into the dish room at 11:25am to say hello to Joy, the school's baker and dishwasher. A woman who is always wearing a big smile and you can feel the warmth of her spirit radiate; giving definition to her name. On this day I found her standing there, a simple woman of simple means who is by far one of the kindest and warm hearted woman you will ever meet (who makes the best chocolate chip cookies!) appearing as though she did not feel well. Her eyes red. Her skin flushed. I commented that I didn't believe she looked well when she began to cry. You see her husband has been in a nursing home for years suffering from the affects of Alzheimer's. Joy goes to sit with her husband after long days at a job that pays her minimally. That Thursday was different for Joy, a day when the meanings of the advent season of hope and love, joy and peace would now challenge her in a way far different from how I was finding fufillment for myself in the candle's meanings. Joy got a call that her husband was going to be coming out of the darkness. It wouldn't be long before light would radiate for him in a place other than his body with his crippled memory standing still in darkness. As Joy stood there crying I embraced her and she grabbed onto me so tight as not to let go and buried her head in my shoulder. She knew this day would come, but was she ready? Is anyone really ever ready to say good-bye? To someone they have loved so long?
Not expecting to see Joy at work on Friday, this simple woman of simple means came to make sure she would have bread on her table and oil in her lamp. She explained how she and three of her kids where taking turns being by husband/dad's side. How she awaited her daughter's, number four's, arrival that evening from Florida. Then she said without a tear in eye but a heaviness in her heart that they do not expect her husband to make it till the 23rd.
There it was for me to see...the meaning of the advent season. Finding it in a dark way but knowing that the candles flame give way to light. The hope that one does not have to suffer but would know, has known, love as he comes out of darkness. That Joy finds peace in her good-byes.
This week is fittingly the week in which we all light a candle for "Joy".