The Journey of Joy

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.

(Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2013 “Saint Irene”, Rethymnon )

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:

Another Advent Devotion

Joy Photography

Joy even during COVID?

Joy Week Devotional

Greetings, my friends! The tree is up and cookies are baked… I am behind in my shopping but the Christmas season is upon us, whether I am ready or not. It’s the third week of Advent… Joy according to my list. Let’s have a chat about that word, shall we? Joy. I loved this post we did about Joy in Photographs… and I’m always interested in seeing what brings different people joy. I love that we are all uniquely wired and have our own individual things that spark that joy within our hearts. (check out this post).

I delved into a little e-book this week (thanks that has helped me organize this post; I hope that it enlightens you as much as it did me.

Photo by Kolby Milton on Unsplash

Joyful Light

How many times have you been overjoyed at light? Our dog starts bouncing up and down everytime a set of carlights round the corner. As does my momma’s heart when the headlights pull in the driveway after a late night or a snow storm. Or how about securing your fears with the flick of a switch in the middle of the night, or that toddler’s fears about monsters under the bed? Of all the ways God could have signaled the coming of His son, He chose to light up the night with the brightest of stars. One so bright, that the wisest men on Earth had to take notice. “When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.” Matthew 2:10

Joy Shared

What is good news unless it is shared? Why do you think social media is such a big hit in our society? We just love to share things! How many of us could barely contain the secret of a new baby on it’s way or an engagement announcement? Joyful news is meant to be shared! We were designed to interact. Our stories tell the good news and spread it’s joy! “As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20

The Joy of Making Room

Most of us have way to much stuff. Our closets, our pantrys, our garages, our basements are filled to the brim with gizmos and gadgets that are unnecessary. Yet many of our neighbours will go hungry or alone this Christmas season. If we all made a little room at the dinner table this year, do you think it would bring you as much joy as the one you serve will have? I’m all for re-gifting and sharing what we can’t use ourselves. We need to make it normalized. Sharing brings joy — not stigma! “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.” John 3:11

A Legacy of Joy

Many of us consider Christmas a time for family. We travel to visit, to celebrate and to reminisce. We miss those who have passed on and recount their stories with laughter and joy. The next generation bring smiles to the faces of those of us who are reliving Christmas morning joys through them. How many of us have learned from family… both in struggle and in peace? How do you want to be remembered? As one who sparked joy or strife? It starts with our attitude for today. “The memory of one who lived with integrity brings joy…” Proverbs 10:7 (VOICE)

Joy in Jesus

Finally, we cannot ignore the fact that our only true joy comes through the babe born. None of us, not even Mary, His mother, can be saved without the baby who came to die on the cross for us. How many times have I marvelled about how do people survive this world without the Hope that Jesus brings? I know I could never do it alone. Being “good” doesn’t cut it. We all start out in the same sinful boat. Truly this is the Joy fullfilled in the advent season. “And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Luke 1:46, 47

Blessings this Joy week, my friends! Until we muse together again…

photo via: Kendrickhome

Sparking Joy Through Photographs

This weekend was spent pouring over memories. I sat in a room with with about 50 other ladies (and the occasional man) scrapbooking. Technically, it was a scrapbooking “retreat” — but I’d like to think of it as time spent recalling happy (or sometimes sad) memories … with a little paper and tape mixed in. Okay… a lot of tape, and glue, and patterned paper, and embellishments, and ribbon, and die cut machines and lap tops and…oh, nevermind.

Ask any scrapbooker or photographer (or blogger for that matter) why they do what they do, and one of the first responses is this: I want to capture the moment. To savour a unique blip in time that brings an emotion to life. And, we want to share it. How many grandmas pull out those precious pictures of the new grand baby? How many times have you looked through that trip to the mountains album and discovered you have taken 101 shots of the same piece of dirt? Photographs produce memories. Visual cues to a time and place stuck in our brains forever. Moments to be recalled and re-lived. Moments that spark joy. Or moments that bring a flood of tears as you remember challenges… and how you are overcoming them.

I skimmed through a few articles about how our brains and memories work together to store and interact with images — and no surprise here — looking at pictures helps to recall memories. We remember: who, what, where, how and sometimes the why of those pictures. Lots of research is being done to see how scrapbooks and albums are helping Alzheimer patients and people with learning disabilities cognitively connect. I will try and Pin some of the articles on my Pinterest board for you to check out.

Having discovered all these great facts about pictures, I decided for this blog entry to ask a few of my friends to share some of their favourite pics. Images that capture “joy” for them. Some of my friends have studied photography. Others are still learning. For this project, though, I simply asked them to send me photos that “spark joy” for them. I love the results. When you google “joyful images” you get a lot of smiles, a lot of hand raising… and for some reason: bubbles. I suppose “joy” ignites the feeling of freedom for some of us. Therefore, without further ado, here is the collection of a few images that “spark joy” . Please check out the links to follow along if you like what you see –and share the joy around!

As Easter rolls around this week, I am musing about what it would be like if there were photographs of that last trip of Jesus’ ministry. What a contrast of images from the triumphal entry on palm Sunday to the dark hill and the gruesome scene on the top of Golgotha. What would the Instagram accounts of the disciples document in the eventful three days of the first Easter? Does it spark joy in your heart? We’d love to see what images kindle joy for you! Share with us on our Facebook page and tell us why !!