Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
- Khalil Gibran
The existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate.
- John Green
Soul Matters worship themes are set months, if not years, in advance. The theme for December 2021, “Opening to Joy” was set in the early months of the year, as vaccines rolled out and we looked forward to the end of the pandemic. “The end may be near for the pestilence that has haunted the world this year.” I quoted Zeynep Tufeki is last December’s newsletter, “Good news is arriving on almost every front: treatments, vaccines, and our understanding of this coronavirus. We now know not just that pandemics end, but how this pandemic will end.” Of course that is not quite how the story ended- as I write this article, we are seeing another winter surge of COVID-19 cases in Lincoln, with all the worry and uncertainty that the ongoing pandemic entails for our city and our church community.
At the same time, John Green reminds us that the existence of the pandemic does not affect the joy that is being alive. We have learned a lot in the last year. Our understanding of the pandemic is more nuanced, and most of our congregation is now vaccinated. Some time around Christmas, the first children to get shots last month will complete their full vaccination sequence.
It is in this context that we gather this holiday season, opening to joy. While we will still take precautions and act in response to the pandemic, it does not dictate the joy we feel- if anything, we have deepened in our capacity for joy in the last two years. The simple joys of being together, cooking a meal, or sharing a conversation are more poignant now than they were two years ago. In this season, eat the broccoli and savor the chocolate.
Rev. Oscar Sinclair serves as the Settled Minister for The Unitarian Church of Lincoln, Nebraska.