We’ve come to the last week of Advent: JOY! Many of you know I’ve mused about Joy before, so this topic is no stranger to mittonmusings. Therefore, without further chit-chat, let’s tell our little story for “Joy” as per our advent theme this year.
One summer evening long ago, a country farmer clanged hard on the knocker of the village’s tiny monastery. The elderly monk who tended the gate and the surrounding herb gardens slowly made his way toward the wrought iron fence. “Good sir!” the farmer exclaimed “I have brought you a gift! The finest grapes from my vineyards! Surely they will be so sweet to taste!” “Thank you… I am sure the Abbott will appreciate your fine donation.” “Oh no, they are not for the Abbott, but for you, because when I come to the gate, it is you who opens it, and you who brought me bread when my crops failed because of the drought, and you who tends the herbs so patiently.”
The monk thanked the kind farmer and placed the bundle of grapes in his garden basket. After admiring them all morning, he finally decided he would indeed take the grapes to the Abbott, for the Abbott shared wise words and treated the elderly monk kindly. The Abbott was pleased with the gift but was aware of a brother laid up in the infirmary who was quite ill. “The grapes look so sweet,” he thought, “This sick brother will appreciate them so much more than I, for his time is short and he has fewer joys to relish in his time left.”
The brother in the infirmary plucked a single grape from the bunch. He held it on his tongue and tasted the sweet juices. “So marvellous!” he thought. “But the entire bunch is too much for me. I will share them with the cook who brings me my nourishing meals each day and brings me physical strength in my hour of need.”
The next morning, after the breakfast meal, the cook gathered up the bundle along with the leftovers. In the kitchen, he admired the grapes and appreciated their fine quality. “I must share these with the sexton, who truly understands the handiwork of God in nature. They will bring him such joy!” thought the cook who then prepared the sexton’s lunch of bread and cheese. He tucked the bundle of grapes beside the warm loaf.
An hour later, the sexton sat down with the novice apprentice he had been mentoring. “Look at this fine treat!” declared the sexton! He popped a grape in his mouth and passed the bunch to the novice. “See, God’s design is perfect. He delights in giving us good gifts if we take care of His world.” When the novice accepted the offer, he was reminded of his first encounter with the tiny village monastery, and the kind, elderly monk who welcomed him at the iron gate.
And so, just before nightfall, the grapes made their way full circle. “Enjoy them, my friend” the apprentice beamed. The monk smiled and took the cluster of grapes back to his modest room. He savoured each sweet morsel and wiped the juice from his chin. With true joy in his heart, he fell into a pleasant sleep, comforted by the assurance that God was watching over him always as he carried on with God’s work each day.
And so it is, my friends. True joy bubbles out of a heart changed by God. It cannot be contained but spreads from person to person. It takes on a life of its own and the sweetness of it begs to be shared. As we await the final days of Christmas — remember to share Joy!
Did you like that little muse about Joy? Here are some others we’ve shared over the years: