Joy to the world! The Lord is come: let earth receive her king;
Let every heart prepare him room, and heaven and nature sing.
With “Joy to the world” in our hearts and minds, I invite you to join me in looking each of these twelve days for instances of the joy that runs through all of creation, especially through experiencing the beauty and wonder of God’s world.
Today we drove through part of eastern Nebraska and into Omaha. The land changed along the way from fairly flat fields to hills, and then on through the Platte and Elkhorn river valleys with some wooded areas near the rivers, and then into the suburbs and center of Omaha. Snow covered it all.
From the road, the rows of corn stubble stand out against the snow. The clearly distinguishable rows recede into a common point, bringing some geometrical elegance to the landscape. Coupled with seeing the fields lying under snow cover, providing at least some moisture to the dry soil, the fields bring quiet joy.
Driving by wooded areas brings a different sort of joy to me. Since my childhood in northeast Ohio, I’ve loved seeing the woods in winter, so even small patches of woods seen from the road evoke a special feeling of joy and gratitude for the earth’s gifts.
A key to experiencing joy is openness to finding joy both in beloved familiar places and in places that seem very different or even strange. Straight rows of corn stubble and the tangled thickets in the woods are very different, but there’s joy to be seen and experienced in both. Learning to let go of something old in order to find joy in something new is essential to our spiritual growth, and may well be a piece of our spiritual preparation for the challenges we face now and in the future as our biosphere changes in significant ways.
Joy to the world! The Savior reigns; let us our songs employ, while fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains, repeat the sounding joy.