Voices of Joy Advent IV and Christmas and New Year

Tags

, , ,

angel

A voice of joy! Advent began with a voice on one crying…in a wilderness! And we take a turn into the season with a voice of joy! I am relying heavily on joyful voices in this season, Music and words combine to life my spirit above the oppressive sounds of so much that is being given attention.

So I have heard Joy in the voice of children in productions of “Beauty and the Beast.” I have heard Joy in concerts downtown at Disney Hall, first all of the Bach motets, then the voices of Chanticleer. My Facebook community supplies me amply with music of Joy of many kinds–country western, early Renaissance, piano and cello, hundred voice choirs, a capella ensembles. On Christmas Eve by candlelight, we heard in variegated voices the story of the birth of Jesus into this world and what it means; it led us to stand and sing together “Joy to the World.”

And then we were stunned at dawn to get a familiar voice on our phone on Christmas morning telling us to go look on our front porch–and there to our shock and surprise was our complete Florida family awaiting to say Merry Christmas and to feed and love us, through this festival week. It has been followed with singular voices of Joy: laughter of cousins, hilarious remembering between siblings, excited regaling with new experiences, eager recitation of encounters with something special–all Joy! Certainly the we have shared the Joy of Christmas with enthusiastic voices this season.

I am convinced that I am to bring a voice of Joy into the new year. It is counter-intuitive if I become saturated with the voices of the world around us–news, op-ed pieces, and Cassandra like predictions of the doom to come. However, the voice of those who are seeking Spirit and intending to live with its energy are filled with hope,  perseverance, compassion and imagination because of what we are celebrating this Christmastide. Those are the choruses of which I would like to be a part. I anticipate with expectation the anthems of those who are joining their journey of Spirit with their intention to be part of the healing of the world, whether in political demonstration and action, or in service to those without resources or agency. I align my heart and voice with those who croon softly to the person in pain and despair, or to the ones who feels as if there is no place to call home. I accept the lowering registers of my own voice to calibrate it to the song I have been given to sing for now: God is here, does not leave us, nor can anything separate us from Divine Presence and Care. There is Joy in all!

Good Christian souls, rejoice! with heart and soul and voice…

In this New Year I am adding my voice to the band of angels and saints who hear and care for the voices crying in the wilderness, and then go on to bring a more hopeful, Joyful song of “Peace on earth, good will to all!”

Advertisements

Arms of Love Advent III

Tags

,

armsoffriendsThis third week of Advent, after Gaudete Sunday, where we praise the Holy, as Mary did, remembering her with  a rose colored candle in our Advent wreaths, is about Loving.  All of one’s body is involved in loving, but often the first movement is with our arms.

I found this work of art in Montreal this fall. So much Love is shown in the arms of these three: the expressive arms of the one telling her truth; the accepting arms of the one bent in to listen deeply; and the arms that hold and support the truth as it is being told. How many people, especially in this season, long for welcoming and supportive arms of Love outstretched on their behalf!

I have been noticing active arms of Love this week:

  • the driver who ferries the car pool daily, often adding to his load, children other than his own
  • the grandparent who opens her heart and arms to greet the little one after he trips and falls
  • the strong arms who give support and balance to the one whose gait is not quite as steady as it once was
  • the long arms that reach that elusive ingredient on the top shelf of the grocery store for the shopper who can’t reach it
  • those who put all their arms together to pack up turkey dinners for households who need them this Christmas
  • the quick defensive arms who keep others from tripping, or ward off danger from something unexpected
  • the willing arms that carry things from story to car, from car to home, from home to friends

So many ways to show Love! And each one is characteristic of the Holy One who is Love. The prophet Hosea characterizes God speaking this way:

…it was I who taught Ephraim to walk. I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with  cords of human kindness, with bands of Love. (Hosea 11: 3-4)

I am seeking to make my arms loving ones this Advent, whether it is rocking a little one, following the Mother Mary, or offering a great-grandmother’s cookie recipe to guests invited, or sitting with relaxed posture to hear the story that needs telling, whether I am hearing it for the first time or have heard it many times before. As for my own needs to be replenished in Love this season,  I am taking shelter in the Loving Arms of the One who made me just the way I am, who can comfort and heal me, then send me out again to Love the world!

People, look east, the time is near/of the crowning of the year./ Make your house fair as you are able,/ trim the hearth and set the table./People, look east and sing today:/ Love the Guest is on the Way.

 

 

 

Peaceful Feet Advent 2

Tags

, , ,

PeacefulFeetHow beautiful upon the mountain are the feet of the one who brings peace, says the prophet, and I would add “along the seashore, in the care facility, tn the church sanctuary, along the streets in the neighborhood, and in the shopping malls.” Too many feet are the bearers of bad tidings. The feet of the peaceful ones are, indeed, welcome, winsome and healing.

I am in awe of those this week whose feet are engaged in marches for reasons of peace–advocacy for DACA students, attention for the fragile in our world, and the strong, weary, persistent feet of the fighters of wind and flame here in Southern California, trying to save lives and home against the seemingly unremitting Santa Ana winds. When I hear footsteps approaching, I long for them to be the the steps of peace bringers, peacemakers, peacekeepers, peace seekers.

I kept company with my community of spirit journeyers yesterday in an Advent retreat, and for a few hours, we reflected on Christ, “the image of the invisible God,” as he walked this earth. Through copies of paintings of artists, we saw Jesus walking with his disciples on the Emmaus Road bringing them peace after their trauma at the crucifixion. We watched Jesus gliding over water to his frightened friends, and then in another painting saw him stop mid-stride when his being sensed the courageous one whose bleeding had kept her on the margins of life for so many years, and sensed her peace as healing flowed into her. This Prince of Peace is the One for whom we are waiting this season. Lady Julian reminds us that “He is our peace, when we ourselves are in un-peace.” We gathered to reflect and share on the stories of the One with peaceful feet that touched and challenged us.

However, I was once again struck with the feet of the very ones sitting in our circle, whose work in the world is so often to bring peace. One of us, while she was with us, was working on finding housing for those in the homeless shelter displaced by the SoCal fires. Another had been that week helping to raise money for the drilling of wells in villages in Niger. Someone else had been caring for family members who are ill, or had gone to the side of one in grief and despair. And each one there had taken herself to the place of being peace for someone else–at home, on-line, over land and sea–in speaking words of peace or in just showing up wordlessly  with peaceful presence.

I have seen several mashup posts from movies this week of dancing, all synchronized to a contemporary refrain and beat, and there is joy in seeing Fred Astaire, Julie Andrews, john Travolta and Minnie Mouse, one after the other,  swirl and tap out joy with their feet; that energy comes first from a peaceful being. Jesus, looking over Jerusalem, sighed,saying, “Would that you knew the things that made for peace!” We all echo that same sigh. And in this season of Advent while we wait, I am choosing to be the one with beautiful, peaceful feet, whether it is by sitting with my daughter overlooking the ocean as we contemplate the unknown future, or by dancing with my little loved ones for the sheer fun of it, or by taking a staff person in the church to lunch, or by collecting money day by day for the fragile ones further damaged by the fires around us. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep my heart and mind…

 

Wings of Sorrow: Advent I

Tags

,

ChagallMagicFlute

I have begun Advent in Hope, but am deeply aware of all the sorrow swirling around me. I have been  for weeks now. It has shown up in all shapes and sizes among the people I know and love: the loss of a spouse for one longtime friend, the failing of another body part in someone else, the ending of traditions of many years because of circumstance, and more tragically, the continuous pouring out of the failure of human beings, personally and politically.  So I grieve, for that which has been lost, for that which has been broken, and for the allure of despair that can accompany grief in some of its stages.

When I think about the familiar characters in the stories of the Advent and Christmas season, I see that many of them were acquainted with sorrow in their participation on the events of the season we now celebrate. Mary was unexpectedly, inexplicably pregnant, with a fiance willing, possibly eager, to divorce her. Joseph felt betrayed, with no clear idea what to do next. The Wise Ones from afar seemed to be charged with the need to find a solution, a truth, to the searching of their minds and souls. And the Church marks with deep sorrow the slaughter of the innocent ones after Herod’s insane rampage in killing all the infant boys born, who threatened his imagination.

I can and do connect with those sorrows. There is sorrow in the child that appears, no matter what age or stage, that seems to require something more from us than we are able to provide, or with whom we are ill-matched. There is sorrow in marriages and partnership when illness or grief strikes a loved one. There is sorrow in so many who have been faithful to the ideals and the principles to which their lives have been committed, only to find that now all the rules, sensibilities and specs have changed. And our lamentation is deep and wide when we witness the brutality and callousness and dis-empowering of so many vulnerable human beings, in our own neighborhoods and in our nation and the nations all around the globe. In this “bleak midwinter” of our world’s history, we grieve profoundly, even as we look for some Light that will show us how to participate in its healing.

I began Advent with a trip to the local art museum where there is a stunning exhibit of the work that Marc Chagall created for ballet and opera. Colorful, provocative, enchanting, each figure and background set forth imagination and energy, but also each one carried a shadow, the sorrow to be found in the work for which it was created. Even in “The Magic Flute” by Mozart which delights with humor, with wit and intrigue, in the midst there is sorrow, an intimation of which I found in the backdrop (pictured above) that opened the opera, “wings of sorrow,” lurking even in the starry sky. I am comforted with the depiction.

I also began Advent reading Father Gregory Boyle’s new book Barking to the Choir in which he regales his readers with story after story of the tears of tragedy that is the daily fare of the “homies” with whom he works. The stories are unimaginable to some of us who live comfortable lives. A friend of mine said, “I laughed, I cried, I laughed, I cried, over and over.” Yet it is a book about Hope, even in and through the sorrow.

I am challenged to give place in my life to the sorrow that is part of who we are, where we are in this time in history. Sorrow is a constant thread of life, not strange, not the result of something bad, just life on this earth. But it is not the only thread, nor the last word. I acknowledge the sorrow, grieve it whatever way is right for me, and leave room for Hope to come in. Not a bad way to begin Advent!

Spiritual Clutter

Tags

, ,

images-2The liturgical year comes to an end this week, and I am struggling with what  am experiencing as spiritual clutter in my heart and mind: too many books, too many websites, too many blogs from others, too many fraught conversations. All of these sources are good, some even brilliant, but the sheer number of them is crowding out my ability to listen for the Word of the Holy One to me day by day.

I am attracted to every shiny word and image about people’s journey of Spirit that I see. What does this young woman have to say? what insights do these theologians have to bring? how are these spiritual teachers expanding the parameters of deep conversation? and who are the latest voices to come to sit in at the table of conversation? Most of these sources are worthy, provocative and helpful. Theirs are insights and perspectives that challenge and enrich my own study and experience so far. But what I am finding is that for me right now, the engagement of “more” is crowding out the “one thing necessary” that Jesus flagged for Martha and Mary, that time of listening deeply, musing, pondering, letting the Word dwell in me richly, truly, madly deeply. I read quickly, so I can absorb lots of words in a record amount of time, but I am noticing that my rapid speed and prodigious quantities of written material are making it hard for me to hear a Word. I remember the seekers who went to the Desert Ammas and Abbas to ask, “Amma, give me a word!” Rarely were the responses given in more than one or two sentences. When that Word was given, the seeker was to go into her own life again to ponder, to meditate, to contemplate what that might mean for her in the location she was given to live.

As I take the turn into Advent next week, I want to  attend to the one thing necessary. It will mean ignoring and tuning out some very glittering images and plangent siren calls of What’s New, What’s Exciting and What’s Different. It will mean turning down the volume on the shrieking headlines and news updates of the hour. It will mean choosing an Advent practice wisely, and then sticking with that, and only that, while I give myself the time and space to reflect on what comes up for me. It will mean committing myself to the parts of my practice that I skate over quickly–the silence, the journal writing, the focused prayer. And keep my eyes and ears focused on the one thing I intend to do.

I have already begun removing things from my basket in my prayer place. That book I nearly finished but didn’t can go to another stack of awaited reading. That diary that is more about quotidian activities than the heart of the matter can come to my reading chair for later. That journal that is really completed can be replaced by a new one that is eagerly waiting with me for a Word. And my timer can keep me rooted and breathing in my prayer place as I listen for the Word.

My late spiritual director, Betsy, often quoted C.G. Jung, saying ,”The Good is the Enemy of the Best.” The good clutter all around, so readily accessible to me, is in this moment the enemy of my best hope for getting a clear channel of connection to the Holy One who is waiting to teach and direct me in these days fraught with bafflement. outrage and grief. My invitation is to un-clutter, sit still and keep my heart, eyes and ears open.

I look forward to what will come in this Advent of attention.

Traveling with Saints

Tags

,

StPhalleSaints

I am getting ready to honor All Saints Day this coming week, and I usually begin with a litany of saints who have gone before me into the unseen vistas of eternity–family members, teachers. pastors, friends and soul mates, heroines and heroes. But this year I am aware of all the saints with whom I come in contact daily, weekly and episodically. My definition this year of a saint is someone who brings Light (to borrow from Leonard Cohen) though the cracks in everything, cracks of grief, abuse, venality, hopelessness. And there are many!

A few keep popping up:

  • the soloist who gave embodiment to the human grief as she sang “Lacrymosa” from a contemporary Requiem
  • the newly widowed faithful partners as they navigate their way into a new normal with gravity and grace
  • the caregivers who show up to comfort, clean up and be present to those whom they are called to love
  • the neighborhood conscience who keeps us from tripping on sidewalks and losing our mail
  • those who arrive on the doorstep with flowers or coffee bread or just a “hi” when days are bleak
  • the one who always at the drop of a hat says, “Come on in!”
  • the place holder in the pew where she as always sat for years, through pastoral changes, political wrangling and waning societal interest in “religion”
  • the poet who sees, then articulates, the beauty of the created world and calls us to celebrate
  • the persistent one who tenaciously refuses to collapse into despair, even with diminishing strength and agility
  • each one who stands up to bullying, whether it occurs around a dinner table, a private office, or a public arena
  • the writers for hope and justice–in blog, book and op-ed pieces, who keep calling me to Live Into Hope
  • the preacher who faithfully speaks the truth in love–transparently, courageously, in spite of slings and arrows of cranks and critics
  • the children who remain delighted with Halloween, bugs and dogs and soccer games, no matter the weather–political or meteorological
  • and, after Mr. Rogers, the helpers, the ones who see what needs doing and do it, after calamity, after tragedy, in ordinary time.

I am so grateful to be aware of the saints who course around me like a stream of mercy never ceasing, even as I am grateful for the saints who have gone on ahead–who saw in me things I could not see, then allowed me to become all I was meant to be. I am grateful for the saints who always allowed the Light in, no matter the cracks in everything that I could see, without “spiritual bypass,” without rigidity and judgmentalism, without giving up. I intend to be one too!

 

An Agenda for This Year of Life

Tags

,

StAnnedeBeaupre

I just celebrated a Big Birthday! Somewhere in my lists of oughts and shoulds, I had been imagining that I would have a new Mission Statement with clear aims and goals for this occasion and part of my life. Instead, I was traveling for fun, coming out of an intense period of focused care-giving and attending to both daily and cosmic need. My heart and mind were muddled rather than at peace. I was delighted to be away from the daily bombardment of news of disarray and sadness, and so it was a journey toward tranquility that took us on a drive up the St. Lawrence River out of  Quebec City, devouring and savoring the beauty of the fall colors just beginning to turn.

Our first stop was the cathedral of St. Anne de Beaupre. The entire edifice is dedicated to Anne, in legend the mother of Mary, mother of Jesus, and was beautiful in every way–color, light, design. It was for us truly a sacred space. However, the great gift to me amidst the physical beauty was the inscription over the large statue of Anne, declaring: That my joy may be in you. The same inscription in French oversaw the pulpit on the opposite side. I was stopped in wonder, love and praise. I wondered when and how often I has been in a worship space, a worship community, that invited me to be in Joy. I have seen many other churches and cathedrals that have invited me to stillness, to awe, to reverence, but I could not remember such an explicit invitation to Joy.

As the journey continued, both inside and out, I became aware that the Joy comes, not in big pronouncements or agendas, even Vision Statement, but it comes in the attention to the graces and invitations that were offered to me each day. Some were sheer beauty–fields of canola and leaves turning read and yellow and purple. Some came in laughter over new discoveries and shared amazement. Some came in questions raised by what we saw in museums, on sidewalks, and river fronts. And some came in knowing my body well enough to be able to say, “I have taken in all I can accommodate today.”

It brought to mind a quotation from Marvin Hiles that I have carried around for many years: To live sweetly in the bitter days, to shape beauty among the grotesque, to exult in the littles, and to declare in the midst of brokenness a wholeness that comes now and ultimately. God’s joy in me in the daily, in the moment and in the long haul.

As I journeyed home from my trip to Canada, I found that graces and invitations were all around–a Taize service that centered me, a planning meeting that energized (!), the joining of two friends of mine who had not known each other previously in a justice project, opportunities to walk with love ones in distress. Not always joy, not always happiness, but Joy.

This week, as if to add an exclamation to my findings, these words came from Celtic Daily Prayer II, by Andy Raine: These are the days for noticing the small things, establishing trust and saying things that need no words. In the miasma and stench of rhetoric in the public sphere these days, I am cheered by the prospect of an alternative narrative, one that allows for and leads to Joy, and even invites me to be a bringer of the Joy of the Holy that is in me!

When I Do Not Know What To Pray

Tags

, ,

AfricanmaskLACMA

These past days have been very challenging to the way I pray. I have beloved ones in harm’s way, and I pray for their safety. And I am aware that thousands of others are in the same harm’s way, and I pray for them. I hold close some of those dear to my heart going through deep waters with health, economic and relationship issues. They are part of national and global systems which do not give them the support and the resources they need, so I am pressed to pray for them too. The captions on the day’s reporting don’t amuse, just depress even further. How do I pray? And I am coming up on a Big Birthday after a year of being bumped by things that slowed me down, another call to prayerfully re-imagine myself for the next stage!

I then remember an old Celtic prayer called the Caim Prayer, designed to be of use when nothing else–words, icons, intentions–don’t seem to be. The Lindisfarne Comunity of England suggests that I pray the following prayer while drawing a circle around myself, using the right index finger as I pray, symbolizing the encircling love of God:

Circle me, Lord,/ Keep comfort near/and discouragement afar./Keep peace within/ and turmoil out./ Amen.

This feels as if it could be a beginning, a centering of myself in the Mystery, finding a place to get my equilibrium, a place to stand, some equipoise. Then the community prayer book offers some alternative readings into which I can insert particular names and situations:

For the ones in the path of the hurricanes, those known to me and those unknown: Circle them, Lord./ Keep protection near/and danger afar.

For those facing the inexorable changes in the structure and systems in which they work: Circle them, Lord./Keep hope within, /keep despair without.

For the one who is navigating complicated medical procedures and diagnoses: Circle her, Lord. Keep light near,/ and darkness afar.

For the one who feels caught between a rock and a hard place: Circle him, Lord./Keep peace within/ and anxiety without.

The Eternal Triune God shield all of them on every side.

The question is raised: do these prayers work? I don’t believe that “working” is something prayers are for. The Caim Prayer is a prayer for Presence, for awareness, for hope, no matter the reality, no matter the circumstance. It focuses divine, mysterious attention on a world where the rain falls on the just and the unjust, in which we have sorrow, in which we have no permanent abiding place, in which we are waiting for the Holy One to bring all things together.

And so I keep circling my heart, and the hearts, minds and bodies of the world with this prayer, even while I send checks, make phone calls, advocate for justice, listen to stories that need to be told. Another hurricane is forming, another visit to a doctor is scheduled, another tear in the seam of the broken world needs mending. So I continue to pray, Circle…and all of your beloved ones…. Lord./ Keep us all in the circle of your care.

 

The Caim Prayer is found in Volume I of Celtic Daily Prayer, from the Northumbria Community. 2002, Harper Collins, Page 297.

Personal photo from an exhibit of art from central western Africa displayed at Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

 

 

 

 

 

Surprises on the way!

Tags

, ,

images-1

I am living in a week of surprises! Not all of them have been welcome. In trying to take an airplane flight to San Francisco on Monday, the delays and cancellation diverted us to spontaneous Plan B, which was to embark on an overnight road trip, complete with motel stay, a visit to an old Italian restaurant, and navigating traffic and road repair.

Yet, I found that there was surprising Grace in the change of plans. Despite starting out at the tail end of a holiday weekend, there was almost no traffic going our way as we started out, a welcoming inn in which to stay, a long restorative sleep to be had in comfort. And I found in the recesses of my travel bag, a mystery novel tucked away, which I began to read aloud to my husband, which diverted and kept us amused along the lengthy sojourn the next morning. We often read to each other, but rarely do we read fiction or stay in such contained quarters for so long. For me there was a welcome intimacy in the sharing of space and story.

We arrived in San Francisco on the dot of the time we were to meet beloved friends at the art museum, there to see an exhibit of the artist Edouard Munch. However, we had spare time to wander other exhibits in the newly expanded and appointed museum. The top floor had an exhibit called Sound, a title which did not sound like much art to me, until I saw the exhibit by Celeste Boursier-Mangenot, an installation of ceramic bowls in a broad pond of gently moving water. From the surrounding observation bench, I could hear the slight ting of each bowl as it nudged the one beside it, moving it a little bit forward or to the side, sending it off a new trajectory. I kept being surprised by my fascination as I sat watching, as layers of implication for the world and the way humans live in it coursed through my imagination. What if we were to be a bowl that floated in grace with others, and brought forth a song of delight and grace when we bumped into each other? Wouldn’t that be a surprise!

My surprises were still unfolding. As we entered the warm hospitality which is the hallmark of the home of our friends, I was greeted with the question,
“Are you the surprise lady?” Not quite sure of what was transpiring, I looked at my husband and my friends to discover that this evening was to be a small dinner, very early birthday celebration for me, months in the planing, threads of e-mails streaming through the internet, and memories and pieces of my life gathered from over 40 years. I had my initial beginning anxiety: would it all work? was I dressed for the occasion? and who might appear? And then as I allowed myself to savor the surprise, I prayed that I would be open to receive whatever came as the gift of this generous, extravagant offering of love. As I did the surprises poured out: memories from long ago, shared journeys, laughter, wisdom, hilarity, reflections on my presence and person, surrounded with amazing provisions and touches of charm. And, in a way, in that evening, we became the beautiful ceramic bowls floating in the same sea, touching one another gently, and making beautiful music together. It was a brief, shining moment with which I begin a birthday month and start a new year of life. Not only will I be offering grace notes to each of my companions, but I will be carrying the images with me as source of Hope and Grace.

Even as I savored the beauty and goodness, my family was awaiting medical reports and news from the latest hurricane. Friends were digging out from devastation, managing new paths forward after diagnoses that threatened, navigating situations that seem hopeless, and marching with courage and ardor for justice in the streets of our cities and towns. So I am not confused into thinking that if I just float in Grace that everything will be all right in the world. But I know deeply that I am invited to be open to surprise when it appears, to hang on to its presence firmly, and to let it be Light when I am needing Hope in the Dark!

Taking Joy!

Tags

, ,

IsLaMujeresJoyWords and sight prompting me to joy are everywhere around me! In the ear of my heart I hear the poetry of Anne Sexton:

           There is joy/ in all…

and she catalogues all the elements of her morning kitchen and spirit ritual which delight and inspire her. On my recent family trip when I had solitary moments, I too was able to take joy in where I was–the ocean view, the little Mexican icon in the garden, the cool water, the air conditioner, the fresh coffee, the fountain of live turtles who basked or swam back and forth, the ample time to listen to what i was reading, to reflect, ponder and wrestle with a writer from another location, re-framing questions I seem to be always asking. There is joy in all!

And joy came bursting in the door with each grandchild or grownup as they told their stories of adventure–underwater, around the coral reef, at the ruins, with iguanas, on the back of gold carts, or shopping for chess sets. Each person had a particular way of spinning a narrative, choosing syntax framed with gestures and facial expressions that were illuminating and delightful. And there was laughter and drama and amplification that made my heart spill over with wonder and gratitude. There is joy in all!

It has been more challenging to see the joy is all on my re-entry! There is a calendar of appointments, a list of fix-its, a catalogue of do’s and  don’ts, always hanging around each day. And then, when my “plan” is firmly in place, something intrudes, what Rumi calls a “visitor” to be welcomed–a phone call, a knock on the door, a letter of surprise. And the Plan gets jettisoned. So I have been “listening” to Fra Giovanni, 15th C. Italian artist and thinker:

The gloom of the world but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take Joy!  

When a neighbor needs a ride or a groceries, I can take joy in knowing she is well fed and safe. When someone needs a consultation on a knotty problem, I can take joy in knowing that all those years of education and life experience are still being put to use. When calamity or catastrophe befalls a loved one, I can take joy is knowing that there are ways for me to help and that there is Wisdom to direct me to what those ways are. There is joy in all!

Henri Nouwen tells me, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” That’s what I am choosing to do. That choice does not mean that I fail to notice the terrible grief in the world, the terror of those displaced and abused, the pain of those with unrelenting illness, the violence of arrogant and tone deaf leaders. But, a choice to Take Joy reminds me that those things are not the only realities in the world. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out. (John 1).

So in this second half of the year I am committed to taking joy every day and in every way, wherever I can, so that as I work and pray for the wholeness of the world, for the healing of those who suffer, for the power to overcome injustice, malice and cruelty, I can see behind the shadows, the joy that comes with the Light that will shine and not be put out. I commit myself to looking for and celebrating the Joy that is in all…and sharing it!

I have been committed to a practice of bring grateful for a long time time now. Karl Barth tells me, “Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” I am Taking Joy!