Yesterday was Gaudete Sunday. “Gaudete” means rejoice in Latin. One of my favourite songs is “Gaudete” performed by the Mediaeval Baebes. You can listen to it here. It’s mentioned in “Gabriel’s Rapture,” chapter 5.
During the course of Advent, we celebrate hope, peace, joy, and love. But as many of you know, it can be difficult to experience joy when one is grieving. I wanted to be sure to acknowledge that and also to point to a couple of resources. “Refuge in Grief” is a website managed by Megan Devine. On it, you’ll find lots of resources, including a Holiday Survival Guide. I also recommend her book, “It’s OK that You’re Not OK.” One of the strengths of Megan Devine’s writing is that she understands grief from experience. She is also a trained psychotherapist and weaves together her professional training with her personal journey. Whether you are grieving or whether you are close to someone who is, these resources might be helpful.
Advent and Christmas point us to Lent and Easter. Christ comes into the world to save humanity, and that process culminates in his death and resurrection. So while Advent and Christmas are a time of hope and joy, they are also a reminder of the things that bring us grief – death, loss, and pain. I was struck by the Scripture of Day 10 in our book, which was a passage from Isaiah 25: “On this mountain the Lord of Hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines …. He will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces …” Here, we have a description that sounds suspiciously like Christmas – a feast for everyone with rich food and well-aged wine. But beyond that, and more importantly, a feast where we are in the presence of God and he has eradicated death. Where we sit together, after the resurrection.
Advent and Christmas point us to Lent and Easter. The suffering of Lent and the grief and death of the crucifixion give way to the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. Even in the midst of our suffering and grief, there is hope. There is also love and there is peace.
While it isn’t specifically a sacred song, one of my favourite songs about the resurrection is “After the Storm” by the band Mumford & Sons. You can listen to it here. It was profoundly inspirational for me when I was writing “The Roman,” which is the conclusion to the Florentine Series. The novel features my version of a resurrection.
Redemption and resurrection are themes I explore in my writing but they are also topics I spend a lot of time thinking about. And in this season of Advent, those meditations become all the more poignant as I acknowledge empty chairs at the feast. But I know we shall feast together again one day. “There will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears ….”
Peace and joy be with you all,