We celebrated his life, the twelve of us able to gather during the Covid shutdown. He and I, a few years before, had chosen Scriptures and hymns for our final services, and he finished his quest first. He added another song when he chose hospice over futile treatment. We were blessed with weeks (not enough–never enough) to talk about what we shared for more than half a century. I was already grieving then (and now) and only gradually realized how much of what we shared was joy. In the worst times–I doubt any life span avoids those–we had glimmers of joy if only from being together.
He called for grandson Mitch who plays the hammered dulcimer. “I want you to start practicing Ode to Joy. Hymn number two.”
During the service I noticed the repetition of joy:
- Numerous times throughout the Ode.
- A spirit of joy, if not exact words: “Then sings my soul…How great Thou Art…Amazing Grace.”
- Prayer: Grant that your servant, being raised with Christ… may rejoice in his eternal glory…”
- Scripture: My heart therefore is glad, and my spirit rejoices…and in your presence there is fullness of joy.”
I take for myself the prayer at the end of the Ode: “Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, drive the dark of doubt away,” but that verse leads to joy: “Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day.”
Sharing the Gift
I can’t hand out joy like a free soup kitchen meal, or share it like a dish at a potluck, but we can accompany each other on a quest, and I find joy in companionship and sharing along the way. If I scatter gleams on my path, someone also questing might find a spark of caring or a night-light of joy.