Words 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!