I am/we are witness to a whole lot of pain at The Dale. And yet, there is joy.

At The Dale we work hard to create a safe space for all of us to go below the surface and acknowledge what is really going on in our lives. Many of us can’t hide the hard stuff even if we tried. We are trying to work equally hard at practicing gratitude, celebrating things large and small, and unearthing joy.

Living in this tension is not easy. In an effort to honour that we are all broken, we can too easily dwell there, making it easy to then swing in the opposite extreme: expecting people to put on a happy face all the time.

I have been thinking about all of this a lot. How does joy spring out of trial? I don’t need to look far for inspiration. It comes when “Sarah’s” prayers share the anguish of not being able to grasp how grace might cover her AND the surprise gifts she just received; when “Jim” has to go to the food bank, but is given an abundance of one item and now has the opportunity to share the bounty with friends; when “Fred” grieves the loss of every single one of his blood relatives and beams when talking about his new chosen family.

In this sense, joy actually becomes a subversive act. It pushes against the things that threaten to push us down. Joy doesn’t require that we ignore brokenness: it can be strengthened by it.

At various points this year I have been burdened with sorrow. The weight of circumstances heavy upon my shoulders and heart. The thing that steadies my heart is slowing down, lifting my eyes to where my help comes from, and declaring my faith again and again. In those moments I am reminded that it is possible to not have joy stolen away.

This week I hope to live well into this mystery. I want to acknowledge those things that are hard, the places I am weak, the gratitude I feel, and allow myself to be surprised by joy.