One day I was in a group talking about our favorite part of Christmas. “I love having my grandsons come to my house and make presents for their parents,” Dot said. “They really get into it and get excited. Their love for their parents is so apparent.” While she shared her story, her whole face was a smile, her eyes danced and radiated delight. The joy she felt communicated itself to the rest of us and we too knew joy.
On another time with the group Jim told us about the sudden death of a dear friend of his. We felt his grief and invited him and others to tell us about the man. Their faces glowed as they told of the man’s care for the land and for the people of our area, and of all the quiet differences he had made in our community. Even though the circumstances were sad, joy dwelt in our hearts, because as a group we were united in grief, appreciation for the friend and the land, and love for one other.
Whereas happiness is light and carefree and depends on a positive environment, joy is something different. It is deep and strengthening and can happen in any kind of circumstances because it comes from within. Joy is the condition when the deepest part of me connects with another, united by something ineffably other.
What is your experience of joy? Of “something ineffably other”?
How attuned are you to noticing experiences of unity, allowing them to teach and change you?
Make a collage of joy. Play music that touches your soul and brings deep joy. Dance with joy. Open your senses to joy in any way that works for you.
For further reflection:
“Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with lute and harp!” (See Psalm 150. I like NRSV best here.)
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control . . .” (See Galatians 5:22-26).