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Joy unspeakable

by davesandel on March 19th, 2021

Friday, March 19, 2021                       (today’s lectionary)

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Joy unspeakable

Stand before the sunrise. Fall down before the sunrise beauty. Richard Rohr writes, “Allow yourself to be captured by the goodness, truth or beauty of something beyond and outside yourself.”

I will be a father to you, and you shall be a son to me. The promises of the Lord I will sing forever.

Thus begins “the great inner dialogue we call prayer.” Let my awe before the sunrise expand into awe before the sunrise Creator, and then let “my realization eventually richochet back to include myself.” As I stand and stare, as I fall down, I know how close God is, how close the sun is, how close I am. God has made it all. Now I can begin to “know that we live in a fully sacramental universe, where everything is a pointer and an epiphany.”

These words begin to describe what is known best in silence, in movement, through my smell and taste and touch, not so much in my mind. And sometimes it comes clearest and cleanest in community. Barbara Holmes writes that “practices which turn the human spirit inward may or may not be solitary or silent.”

It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham, but through the righteousness that comes through faith. It depends on faith, so that it may be a gift.

What Barbara calls “joy unspeakable” anchors my faith. It is not a result of faith so much as it is a fuel for faith. “It rises on the crest of impossibility, it sways to the rhythm of steadfast hearts, and celebrates what we cannot see.”

God gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

Barbara does not see the world through rose-colored glasses. “This joy is our strength, and we need strength because we are well into the twenty-first century, and we are not healed.”

Our healing comes to us from the inside out, not a word from outside, no matter how wise that word might be. We grow in God’s garden, not one of our own making. Wasn’t Joseph given a dream, and God’s word of assurance and direction spoken within his heart?

Joseph intended to divorce Mary but the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Joseph awoke. He did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took his wife into his home.

When we experience this direction from God, the life we live could not be more exciting. But we don’t need verbal or even mystic communications, just a sense of Presence. Often we sit, wait, “be still and know that God is God.” Or, as Barbara experiences regularly in her black church, God’s presence pours out through dance and song and holy abandon. With no regard for our desire for comfort or security, this joy appears “when you least expect it, when the burden is greatest, when the hope is gone, after bullets fly.”

We live through season after season of “unhealing.” But, Barbara says, “We are on a pilgrimage toward the center of our hearts. It is in this place of prayerful repose that joy unspeakable erupts.”

(2 Samuel, Psalm 89, Romans, 4, Psalm 84, Matthew 1)

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