Mennonite Heritage Village

The Lesser-Known Counterpart of Advent – Joy and Sadness

“Joy and woe are woven fine, a clothing for the soul divine.” – William Blake

The theme for this final week of Advent (Christmas) is joy. Hopefully, this series will encourage those who are overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations to appreciate these beautiful Advent themes from the bottom up.

The mixed emotion that goes with joy is sadness. When the Psalmist says, “he turns my mourning into dancing”, he is not talking about an instant flip, but a process that starts with mourning. Again, “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy” is not a paradox, but a juxtaposition because they are both connected. The word ‘sad’, derives from the Latin ‘satis’, which means sufficient, satiated, or turning point. When difficulties challenge our joy, feeling sadness is the turning point that gets us back into recovery mode.

A person afraid of getting stuck in sadness cheats the process. Like the child trying to get directly back up the slide instead of using the ladder, they struggle frenetically to gain ground, but barely hold their no-man’s-land position. It is only when they accept the despair of the situation and allow themselves to slide down that they come to a turning point and find a better way up. It is those that can no longer feel their sadness that are at risk of depression, not vice-versa.

Our bodies do this process naturally. Like when you say something wrong your head winces and turns away as it helps you recompose. Or if you fall through the ice, the body first has a minute of cold shock as it adjusts to the situation. Experts say after that, you should turn around in the water and go back the direction you came from since that is where the ice will be strongest. We have unforeseen dips in our lives, a time of shock where everything stops until we can work out our grief, then comes the recovery (turning back to where we were) and a return to higher and warmer ground – joy!

William Blake’s poem reveals that a life with joy and sadness together is the best way to make it through this hard world:

Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine.
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.
It is right it should be so,
We were made for joy and woe,
And when this we rightly know,
Through the world we safely go.

May you always be able to have your tears, to stay soft and open, and may you experience the true joy that Christmas embodies. Please consider MHV in your year-end giving. We endeavour to be a place of well-being for our community. Besides our operations, we need to complete our Dirk Willems Peace Garden and trail. With the compassion of Christ, Dirk Willems saved his captor from the icy waters and challenges our way of viewing our enemy to this day. Call, visit our website, or mail in your donation today.

Upcoming Events

  • MHV gift shop and galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday 9am to 5pm. A great place to find unique and hard-to-find gifts.
  • Winter Day Camp, January 3-5. Kids ages 6-11 can experience the fun of the Mennonite Heritage Village in winter. Enjoy skating, snow-sculpting, crafts, games, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and of course plenty of hot chocolate. Cost is $90 for all three days. Contact Robert Goertzen at or 204-326-9661.