I was listening to NPR on my way to work, as usual, and heard a story about last year's Super Bowl- the author of a new book was saying that football tells an epic story of a leader (quarterback) leading his troops (team) to victory by conquering the field. The author mentioned Eli Manning, last year's victorious quarterback, as such a victorious leader and great character of the story.
I wondered about Mr. Manning- I wondered if he wakes up every day since last January saying "I am the victor!! My story is amazing! We won the freaking SUPERBOWL!!!" My guess is that the joy that struck him on that day has faded, and while he's still fond of the memory, he's probably moved on to other things, like working toward this year's victories.
It occurred to me that we live longer in our losses than in our wins. Losing someone we love seems to settle on us and stay- and it is much much longer before we can move on, start to focus on new things. Victories peak and then fade, while losses of love cling to us and color every day.
I don't have a remedy for this, it just occurs to me that it's true, and it makes me wonder why.
Whenever I get to the 4:00 Saturday Mass at my parish, I go early and visit with the Front Rowers. These are the people, older people, who sit in the first three pews every week. When these people aren't at Mass, you wonder if they're visiting family or if they are sick. I spoke with one of the women about how unbelievably fast Advent has come upon us, and she told me she had had a wonderful, blessed year. I said I hope that next year will be as good as this, and she said, without a pause, "oh it couldn't be! Every day I get out of bed amazed at my blessings, and thanking Jesus for my life."
I think what she's talking about is the difference between joy and happiness. Joy stays with us long-term, and if we allow it to, it will cling to us just as fast and sure as sadness does. Just like sadness and grief can withstand moments of happiness and return just like the tide when the moment has passed, joy can do that too. Joy can withstand heartache and sad times and loss, and come back, unbidden, if our joy is grounded.
It's for this reason that I am a Christian, for this reason that I am Catholic- because joy is here in my Church, even despite horrible heartache and loss. I am grounded here, kept ever connected to my source of joy. No matter how hard it gets (and it has gotten hard!) the joy- it just creeps back in and takes over. I hope someday I'll be a Front Rower, telling some young person about my joy.