Sunday, August 16, 2009

JOY -- find it, love it

Ah, joy -- it refreshes the spirit, but can vanish as quickly as it arrives. There is so much in the world that militates against joy. Yet it seems that a glimpse of joy is what sustains us, what can give birth to hope and love and courage. At the heart of faith is a kernel of joy, radiating. Joy feels good, and warm, and helpful. And yet we resist it, crowd it out, send it packing. Of all our feelings, it may seem to be the least sensible. But, of all our feelings, it may be the most necessary. It may be the wellspring in all of us that feeds life, full, real, positive life.

I have been an occasional bad landlady to joy. I've given her substandard housing, left her without heat in the winter and forgotten to deliver her mail on time. It is a wonder she stays with me at all. Yet, she waits until I get my brain and heart in synch and there she is, shining like the morning, waiting to comfort and astound me. A small touch of her sparkle and my day is suffused with her light. It doesn't take much.

When I first moved to NYC it was after a rough (are any easy?) divorce. I lived with an old high school friend for a year, and then had my first apartment. It wasn't much, but I worked hard to make it the best I could on my then meager earnings. I had transformed the place with paint and fabrics. One night I came home from work, sat in my little living room and thought "I am so lucky! Look at how cozy and warm this room is!" I sat back, sipped tea and felt joy. It came down like a ray of soft, warm sunlight. I slept beautifully.

The next day I had a horrid day at work. I was worried about bills. I burned dinner. I sat in the same chair that I had the night before and looked at my living room. I had missed a little spot when I painted the ceiling. The sofa did need to be re-covered. That carpet did look old. And the curtains? Too long. "What a horrible place," I thought. I felt the energy slide out of my life.

Then I recalled the night before. It was the same room. Nothing had changed. Oh wait! Something had changed.


I could find or lose joy by deciding how to look at my world. And I was cheating myself of experiencing something worthwhile, something energizing, something good.

There is plenty of sadness in the world. Life hands us sorrow by the bucket-load. Times are hard. Loss is real. But there can always be a moment of joy. Joy comes to deliver us from our sorrow. It is a beautiful gift from God/the Universe/the Earth.

But how to find it when we have lost our view of it?

Gratitude. That is the key that unlocks the heart of joy. Gratitude.

I have said it before -- and will probably say what follows a zillion skillion times in my life. (At least.) Here it is. Wait for it. Take it in.

The time I need to compose a gratitude list is when I least want to!

Think about a gratitude list this week. Ten items. Yes, ten. We both can do it. Watch what happens when you build the list. Something will be creeping in, stealthily curling up beside you, purring. It will be your joy. Welcome her.

After all, this IS the day the Lord has made. Rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118)


Blogger Linnea said...

Have a lovely Sunday! I hope your asthma is getting better.

Here, medschool is like coming home, at last.

Regards, Kristin Linnea

4:39 AM  
Blogger Barb said...

<< Something will be creeping in, stealthily curling up beside you, purring. It will be your joy. Welcome her.>>

I like this sentence! (Former English teacher here...)

3:16 AM  

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