Advent Day 18: the joy of the “not-yet”

Can you receive joy from something that has yet to happen? Can anticipation fill us with joy? 

Obviously, my mind immediately goes to those months of waiting for my children to be born. So much possibility mixed with so much reality. Obviously, my children were “real” to me in those months before they greeted the world, but they were not here in their fullness, the way they are now. Sometimes I wish they could tone some of their fullness down, but that’s a different story for a different time. There was a “here but not yet here” quality to that whole season that allowed me to have joy even though I didn’t have the total expression of that for which I was longing. 

I’ve been reading the texts for this coming Sunday, Mary’s “Magnificat” from Luke 1. Mary speaks of the powerful being dethroned and the hungry being filled. Those were not the immediate realities of the world simply because Christ was going to come into the world. Mary’s song was sung in the joy of what was to come. Mary’s joy was of the world the way it should be, not as it was. 

For Mary, joy was tied to hope. It seems strange to find your joy in something as ambiguous and nebulous as the world which we imagine. To live with the kind of joy that Mary had is to live in a world pregnant with possibility. it’s to hear the heartbeat of an imagined future without being able to cradle it in our arms. It’s to feel the kicks of a reality waiting to break through, with being able to  stare it in the eyes. I don’t want to stretch this analogy too far, but I love this quote of Meister Eckhart who said that “We are all Mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born”. To live in joy is to live into the process of birthing God and God’s justice and goodness into the world, knowing that the fullness of it has not yet arrived, but that we can feel it moving within us. 

Sorry if it’s insensitive for a dude to write about pregnancy in these terms. Doing the best I can. 

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