Editor’s Note: We invite you to join the FMS family as we journey toward Christmas with a new Advent blog series, “Hidden Joys.” In this first post of the series, DC Service Corps volunteer Emily Putzke reflects on the hidden joys of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, along with the hidden joys of being in the FMS community.


I imagine a dusty road, Mary’s hand on her growing stomach, dappled sunlight; a myriad of thoughts clambering for attention in her head as she approaches a house where her cousin Elizabeth, also with child, awaits her arrival.

There’s nothing easy about this scene. Imagine the extraordinary circumstances of their pregnancies, coupled with the very human reality of carrying a child. Imagine the complete and utter shifting of their lives, the misunderstandings, the confusion … 

This is a scene of hidden struggles. But it’s also one of hidden joys.

These women gave their wholehearted yes to God. When such a fiat is given, it’s impossible not to experience hidden joys. Elizabeth exclaimed, “For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy (Luke 1:44). This was a joyous meeting of two women destined to bear incarnate truth, light, and goodness into the world.

FMS is a community of individuals who have joyfully given their fiat, whether by following God’s invitation to serve others internationally or domestically. Yet, this is a community that experiences the hidden struggles and sorrows of humanity as they seek to be light-bearers in a world of shadows. 

As a DC Service Corp volunteer, I’ve seen firsthand that this is also a community that knows and celebrates hidden joys. Whether it’s a centering prayer before a workday, celebrating birthdays with a plethora of treats and cards and love, gathering together for community dinners, sharing laughter, having a quiet moment, coming home to warm cookies made by a housemate, or reading a book on the front porch of Casa San Salvador, hidden joys are abounding. They are woven into the very essence of FMS’ ministries.

I invite you to consider these words from Malcom Guite’s poem The Visitation which has shaped and inspired our Advent theme this year:

“Here is a meeting made of hidden joys 

Of lightenings cloistered in a narrow place

From quiet hearts the sudden flame of praise

And in the womb the quickening kick of grace.

– Malcom Guite

Mary carried joy itself in her womb. May we carry our own hidden joys within us as we journey into Advent.