The experience of joy quivers our existential depths with sweet wordlessness, then casts an afterimage of longing within its waning. Then, it’s gone altogether, and the humdrum returns—another paper to correct, or a bathtub to clean. Yet we have been visited and pine for its return.

This universal experience, from time immemorial, still raises questions: Is there an ultimate Source of Joy—without ending? How regard such moments when they erupt from our psyches, then disappear? True, major world religions have affixed stories to such intrusions and developed corresponding myths for the inspiration of its adherents.

The Christian myth has held my imagination since baptism; its response to grief, integral to the human condition, has sustained me on this arduous life-path, at times, interspersed with splinters of joy. Only with the discipline of Twelve-Step living in later life, have I been able to stand apart from organized religion and experience the full impact of Jesus’s message of salvation. Therein, lies the fullness of joy, bursting to be shared.

Such bursting undermines today’s liturgy for the Third Week of Advent, especially ringing in Mary of Nazareth’s canticle of praise in Luke’s gospel—her finding greatness and delight in the Sacred:

My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior…  Because He who is Mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Because she saw so clearly, we are invited to pray in like manner, despite our grungy stuff. In the big picture, that does not really matter.