Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. (Karl Barth)
Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. (James 1:2-3 VOICE)
His name is Benjamin Tit. And he is a picture of joy.
He was a quiet little thing, tucked away from the crowds that had gathered at a sanctuary to feed giraffes and receive long-necked kisses. At first glance, the shop he was born in looked more like a colorful decoration at the end of a winding trail. But inside the thatch, the flashes of color became hand-painted birds.
And he was there.
The tit bird was fashioned from the branches of the jacaranda tree, known for its beautiful purple flowers that dance across the Kenyan skies. The name of the tree means “fragrant,” because of the floral scent that fills the air when the wood is being carved. He was not yet softened with sandpaper or painted and hung from a string. No, the tiny bird had just been born. He was raw and rough, with a chubby body and tiny bark wings.
He flew for the first time with the help of a jetliner, and came to live in my home. His name was Benjamin Tit (named after the artist who crafted him with axe and knife), and my best friend and I laughed about creating a children’s book with him and his best friend, Benjamin Weaver (the tiny bird who had traveled from Kenya to live with her – the bird in the picture above).
“We’ll call it the Adventures of Tit and Weaver,” I said. “The tagline will be ‘It’s all about the Benjamins.’”
I took one picture of Benjamin Tit before his floral fragrance filled my home. A curious pup found him, and within minutes had chopped the wood from bird to bits.
“I can’t tell what he’s eaten,” said my husband,” but there’s not much left of it, that’s for sure.”
I looked at the wood chips on the floor. The rose-scented air was a sign. A tiny bark wing was all that remained.
The tiny bark wing – and the one small photo. And the crystalline memory of the hut filled with color and fragrance and an artist named Benjamin and a tiny tit bird destined for adventure.
I think joy is like that. It hides within the bits of pain and then blossoms quietly, filling the room with its fragrance. It is not loud or demanding, but it makes its presence known still. It is the salvation of a moment, the redemption of a season, the resurrection of a life.
And that joy remains with us, like a tender photograph of hand-carved beauty for us to hold and cherish. It reminds us that we are still destined for adventure. Maybe joy itself is the greatest one.
Yes, love. There will be joy. I promise. There will be joy.
You’re not alone
You’re now a part of me
You feel the cure
I’ll feel the toil it brought you
(Slow Your Breath Down, Future of Forestry)
Enjoy the playlist. There are songs of hope, love, peace, joy, and light here for you. Yes, Advent comes in unexpected ways – and it’s always an adventure.
There’s still time to be part of a most peaceful giveaway.
Last week, the week of Advent’s peace, I invited you to have a memory of the invitation in your home. So, I want Bri to paint a picture of a little dream of yours. Subscribe to my blog, and you’re automatically entered to receive a miniature Briana original. I’ll work with you and her to get it painted and shipped your way. No purchase necessary, void where prohibited, no macabre or inappropriate things please. Remember, it’s Advent – we’re focusing on hope, love, peace, joy, and light. And if you’d like to contact Bri about commissioned work, you may follow her on Instagram at artful_earth or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only folks who subscribe from December 15, 2017, through January 6, 2018, are eligible. Winner will be contacted by email and/or phone.
If you’ve just stumbled upon this Advent devotional, there are two more waiting for you: Hope and Love. Both tell the story of the season, and both aren’t what you’re expecting. Should you need someone to talk to or pray with right now, I’m here for you. We’re in this together, you know.
Make Advent a tradition in your home. Purchase a copy of “for you love: the advent collection.” Thoughtful words along with beautiful images and illustrations (and its own playlist inspired by hymns of old) are available in paperback or Kindle now on Amazon. And “for you love,” the prayer journal that invites you to respond, is on sale for a limited time only at WordPainters!