Wednesday, December 20, 2017


Last Sunday I said a few words about joy at the beginning of the worship service at Flossmoor Community Church. Four of us were asked to speak each week in Advent about hope, faith, joy, and love. I was grateful to get to talk about joy because I'd just read something about joy on Katrina Kenison's blog. Her recent book Moments of Seeing: Reflections from an Ordinary Day offers many exquisite reflections. I used some of her words and a quotation from L. R. Knost who offers gentle parenting advice. My offering preceded the wonderful chaos of our children's nativity pageant. Several people in the congregation later asked me to post my comments here so they could share them so I give you my thoughts on joy.

Joy is not the same thing as happiness.  Joy isn’t dependent on whether we’re having a good day. No, joy remains even amidst our suffering. Joy is an emotion that’s acquired by the anticipation or even the expectation of something great or wonderful. That’s why I feel joy when I look at my 19-month-old grandson even when he splatters applesauce onto my sweater.  When I look at him, I feel the joy of who he is and who he will become. I see joy in him when he shares his favorite toy with me or takes my hand to show me something. He fills me with joy especially when I’m upset about the state of our world.

Last week, Katrina Kenison, one of my favorite essayists, wrote, “There’s no magic formula that can take us back to better times. No amount of worry or despair or sleepless nights will shape our future. But there is today. And today offers countless opportunities to act with kindness, to embody peace . . . to take small steps toward the light, steps that make the world just a little bit better.

Perhaps this is the challenge we are called to this season: to choose joy without turning a blind eye to the chaos. Joy not as an emotional response to the outer world, but joy as a practice, joy as an inner vibration of the soul, joy as an offering, a way of being, a way of healing what is broken.”

And in the words of L. R. Knost,
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world.
All things break. And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say, but with intention.
So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

When I returned to my seat after speaking, I experienced another moment of joy when the fifteen-month-old sitting next to me reached out her arms and leapt into mine. With her parents' permission, she sat with me for most of the rest of the service. I hadn't seen her since she'd been a very tiny baby so it was simply serendipity that she landed in my lap. I later recalled that I'd first met her mother when she was a toddler herself when her older sister and my son were in preschool together. Everyday joy is just that simple.


  1. Wishing you every joy at Christmas, New Year's, and beyond. Your book suggestions bring a lot of joy to so many of us. Grateful to you.

  2. I love this Trina, thank you. I especially love the quote mentioning intention.

    1. Thanks. The way she makes us think of the unreliable maxim "time heals all wounds" then helps us see that intention matters is exceptional.