Archive for the ‘Joy’ Category

Joy in the Ordinary

Friday, April 5th, 2019

As I examined the reasons for my joy in the midst of the most ordinary days, I realized that joy loves ordinary life best of all. Joy thrives on what all the rest of the world overlooks. The smaller, the plainer, the more lowly the circumstances, the happier joy is.

Of course joy can also thrive in exotic and thrilling situations. Joy itself does not inhere, however, in the exotic and the thrilling, which are rare, but in the ordinary, which is everywhere. As I ride on a roller coaster with my daughter, what produces joy is not the roller-coaster but the fact of sharing an experience with my daughter, which I could also do at home. Or maybe it’s watching the people in the car ahead that brings me joy, or noticing the way the sun shines on the rooftops around. Without the enjoyment of such ordinary things, a roller-coaster ride falls flat.

Those who think of joy as flashy and exciting will also find it fickle, for not much of life is glitzy. True joy, far from being loud and capricious, is by nature just the opposite — quiet and faithful.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 139-140

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, April 5, 2019

God’s Joy

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

You want to be there when the poetry happens. Isaiah has God say: “Be glad forever and rejoice in what I create . . . for I create my people to be a delight.” God thinking we’d enjoy ourselves. Delighting is what occupies God, and God’s hope is that we join in. That God’s joy may be in us and this joy may be complete. We just happen to be God’s joy. That takes some getting used to.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 158

Photo: Oregon Coast, August 6, 2014

Nourished by Joy

Monday, March 18th, 2019

Learn to nourish yourself and the other person with joy. Are you able to make the other person smile? Are you able to increase her confidence and enthusiasm? If you’re not able to do these small things for her, how can you say you love her? Sometimes a kind word is enough to help someone blossom like a flower.

— Thich Nhat Hanh, How to Love, p. 43

Photo: Zweibrücken Rose Garden, Germany, June 2003

Joy Training

Monday, March 11th, 2019

Some of us periodically need to repeat the joy training, rehabilitate the part of us that naturally dims or gets injured by busyness, or just by too much bad news to bear. Adults rarely have the imagination or energy of children, but we do have one another, and nature, and old black-and-white movies, and the ultimate secret weapon, books. Books! To fling myself into a book, to be carried away to another world while being at my most grounded, on my butt or in my bed or favorite chair, is literally how I have survived being here at all. Someone else is doing the living for me, and all I have to do is let their stories, humor, knowledge, and images — some of which I’ll never forget — flow through me, even as I forget to turn off the car when I arrive at my destination.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 64-65

Photo: Swans over South Riding, Virginia, December 31, 2015

Optimism – Future and Past

Monday, March 4th, 2019

Joy requires optimism — optimism not only about the future but about the past. The worse our past has been, the more need we have to be optimistic about it. Forgiveness means letting go of the hope of a better past. Optimism, like forgiveness, reaches into yesterday and actually changes what we thought could never be changed. The terrible blunder we made last week suddenly becomes a blessing, a doorway into some new opportunity. Just as regret over yesterday has the power to spoil today, so joy today has the power to obliterate a lifetime of pain. Is such joy an illusion? No, it’s the truth, but it takes optimism to see this. Where there’s been much pain, the Lord will give much joy to more than make up for “the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 135-136

Photo: Sembach, Germany, January 29, 2004

Find Our Joy

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

As a church, as the Choir, we must stop at nothing to find our joy. Not in a ruthless, cutthroat way but in a way that is genuine and determined. We choose joy in all its constant delighting. After all, there is no group more practiced at fretting and worry than human beings. Delighting is a real antidote to the chronic toxic stress that folks at the edges carry.

— Gregory Boyle, Barking to the Choir, p. 158

Photo:  South Riding, Virginia, February 20, 2019

Duty to Delight

Saturday, February 16th, 2019

Dorothy Day loved to quote Ruskin, who urged us all to the “Duty to Delight.” It was an admonition, really, to be watchful for the hilarious and the heartwarming, the silly and the sublime. This way will not pass again, and so there is a duty to be mindful of that which delights and keeps joy at the center, distilled from all that happens to us in a day.

— Gregory Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart, p. 148

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 29, 2016

Fed by Life

Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

How can we know all this, yet somehow experience joy? Because that’s how we’re designed — for awareness and curiosity. We are hardwired with curiosity inside us, because life knew that this would keep us going even in bad sailing. We see the newborn energy of the universe most flagrantly in the sea and in the entire Jell-O-y wiggle of a baby. The universe expresses itself most showily as children, and it moves through children of all ages — your nephew, baby Jesus, and Ruth Gordon in Harold and Maude, shimmying at eighty in a cocktail dress. Life feeds anyone who is open to taste its food, wonder, and glee — its immediacy. We see this toward the end of many people’s lives, when everything in their wasted bodies fights to stay alive, for a few more kisses or bites of ice cream, one more hour with you. Life is still flowing through them: life is them.

— Anne Lamott, Almost Everything, p. 63

Photo: My nieces at the Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon, February 1, 2019

Rejoice Always

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019

If you’re unhappy now, don’t fret or feel guilty about it. Guilt and worry only perpetuate misery. Instead, be happy. Change your mind about the outrageous impracticality of this advice. If the Bible says “Rejoice always,” there must be something to it.

But you object: “I can’t be happy, because I’m sick,” or “I can’t be happy because my husband left me,” or “I can’t be happy, because I’m sad.” Don’t you understand? Happiness is the very weapon you need to surmount all these conditions. Happiness doesn’t come to those who sit around waiting until life gets better. Happiness comes to those who grab hold of its proffered hand in order to rise up and conquer their struggles.

— Mike Mason, Champagne for the Soul, p. 130

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, February 22, 2015

Expanded Present

Sunday, January 20th, 2019

In mindfulness, we are talking about a sense of an expanded present. Our protestations, our clinging to the past, our efforts to control the future may arise, but they are strongly attenuated by remembering to simply be with what is. We drop through our reactions to a space of profound, grateful connection – that is love of life itself. Always keep in mind that in reality, what we might have in this moment with a friend, with a place, with a dance, with a poem is the one more time. Treasure it.

— Sharon Salzberg, Real Love, p. 290

Photo: South Riding, Virginia, January 17, 2019