On this second day of Lent I want to remind you to look for joy. It’s easy to feel joyful during the festivities of Easter, but during these somber days of Lent? Those who were in church for an Ash Wednesday service said these words from Psalm 51 just yesterday:
Make me hear of joy and gladness, * that the body you have broken may rejoice
Last week a 110 year old Holocaust survivor and pianist, Alice Herz-Sommer died, and on Sunday a short film about her won an Academy Award. In accepting the Oscar, the film’s director, Malcolm Clarke, said that he was struck by Herz-Sommer’s “extraordinary capacity for joy” and “amazing capacity for forgiveness.” In the midst of her Lent – a family and way of life torn apart, a husband sent to Dachau, she and her son to Theresienstadt – she found joy in music. “Beethoven is my religion” she said. “He gives me faith to live and to say to me: Life is wonderful and worthwhile, even when it is difficult.” She credited Chopin with keeping her alive in the camp, as she pulled upon the reserve of strength that Chopin’s etudes had built in her.
Alice had every reason to lose hope, and instead found every reason to have it. If her choice to find beauty and joy in a harsh world seems naïve, does feeling damaged, angry or vengeful seem like a better choice?
If Lent teaches us nothing else, it is that we have every reason to hope. And where there is hope there can be joy. Look for it. Or as Alice Herz-Sommers did throughout her entire 110 years, listen for it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8oxO3M6rAPw