A time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to plant, a time to harvest…you know where this is going. This week, despite the rigors of Lent, I have been reminded of the rightness of making merry.
A case in point: last December when my kids and I went to visit my husband’s grave site, it was anything but a time for merry making. It was a time of wretched grief. Life is like that: moments when nothing is funny, and it seems that nothing will every be funny again. But as we drove back from the cemetery, we passed an injured cat in the middle of the road. It looked like it should be white but it was so covered in mud that it was hard to tell. I took pity on the poor thing and stopped by the roadside, and my sons took their good natures in hand and picked up the disheveled critter, despite her clear protests, and we took her home – I thought to die.
Little did I know what that cat would do. She lived. She not only lived, she thrived. She practically took over the lower level of the house. Spring has finally arrived and I recently managed to convince her, without any real protest, that she’d like the outdoors and all our other critters who share our few acres. The kids named her Merry and she is indeed making merry – being alive – making lots of friends, and I’m thinking there will probably be more to this story down the road.
This week, March 25th, we celebrated the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of God’s son. After getting over the initial shock of such a revelation, Mary probably did feel rather like making merry. But even she, full of grace as she was, could not have envisioned the whole of where her merry joy would take her – what roads she would travel and what immensity of grandeur she would come to know and be known for.
We also celebrate this coming week, Palm Sunday, remembering the people’s joy at what they hoped would be the beginning of a new kingdom. They weren’t wrong – just God has bigger ideas than we realize at the moment. Their merry making was right and just – Jesus even said so. If they did not shout for joy, the rocks would have done so.
Yes, there are trials and terrors before and after merry making – but merry making in itself if not wrong. There is a rightness in being glad. God can bring unexpected surprises into our lives, washing the mud of our grief away for a time, announcing a future more glorious than we could ever imagine and reminding us, despite the sorrows of this valley of tears, despite the wickedness of evil which put Christ on a cross and killed him: He did not stay dead. God is alive. Now, there is a reason to make merry.