Here is a very simple invitation.
Right now, why not down tools and take a moment to uncover a glimmer of joy in your perhaps very ordinary, lovely or difficult day?
Find something, however humble and unspectacular that stirs up the embers of joy in your heart, and commit to linger with it for a just a few minutes. A lot has been written about the difference between pleasure and joy but I think that finding simple things that we can genuinely connect with, delight in and be grateful for can awaken our senses to deeper joy? When we seek to be more fully present to the things that wake us up to the goodness of the world and to hope we are beginning to taste joy that it within us rather than contingent on fleeting moments of pleasure alone. But delighting in simple things as we do them, fully open to the beauty and wonder right there, isn’t a bad place to start! It could be a slowly made, delicious cup of coffee sipped in a mindful way so that you enjoy every mouthful? It could be a walk outside in a place you love taking in the colours, sounds, textures? Hunt for a beautifully patterned leaf or perfectly smooth pebble or catch sight of a bird circling above that when lingered with, just makes you that bit more glad to be alive? Stand in a shower and take in the full force of that torrent of delicious warm water cascading over you, really be present and feel its goodness – it is amazing how gratitude for water suddenly feels real when we are awake to the pleasure of it.
The point is, we so often de-prioiritise the things that bring us the deeper bass notes of joy, and that wake us up a bit to the goodness around us. Especially at a time like this, when all of us are dealing with a period of time remarkable for its uncertainly and strain, we are often prone to go into survival mode, press on grimly and forget there is actually strength that comes with the joy that bubbles energetically under the ordinary moments of our lives.
Joy, stubborn and resilient, reminds us life is rarely one thing; that despite demands and difficulties that come scurrying our way there are nearly always accessible experiences which can ignite our curiosity and joy. Allowing ourselves at least a few minutes to connect with these things daily without apology or guilt can remind us that the hard things in life (as real and painful as they are) do not have the power to erase the good, beautiful things that also exist in the mix. They both exist at once.
This potent realisation can be obscured when the tough stuff clamours for our attention and dominates our thoughts. Intentionally seeking the glimmers of joy that bristle at the edges of our vision and lurk almost cheekily in the corners of our day waiting to be uncovered, can bring us strength and renewed vitality and hope. Even if it is just in teaspoonfuls some days. Allowing ourselves the experience of these small joys mounts up to something significant over time and feeds into a natural blooming of gratefulness. And gratefulness is a mighty bulwark against both boredom and despair.
The God and joy connection
If you are a reader of the bible you might know the famous verse from Nehemiah 8:10 “the joy of the Lord is my strength”? Christians believe in a Creator God who longs for every one of his children to know the joy and goodness of His presence and love, even in a messy and sometimes brutal world? I believe there is unimaginable joy in the relationship between father, son and holy spirit within the Trinity, and God longs for us to know and be united to them in that joy of loving friendship. So, as we commit to be curious about finding joy in simple everyday things, we can also take a great inhalation of joy knowing we are loved and held by the Divine through all circumstances and every trial. Joy then is a mighty strength pouring out of Divine Love in all directions. It can hold us steady through all sorts of difficulties, not removing the suffering but being co-existant within it, because God’s love is there co-existant with us? It sounds oddly paradoxical, maybe it is. To me it is a profoundly true and hopeful tension that is tested and tried in the wild complexity of life.
The invitation is to turn towards God, heart open to union with the Love that cannot BUT leave a glistening trail of joy in its wake. Maybe it is the everyday miracle we can all find buried just below the surface of experience if we look for it? And when we are too tired to look, too overwhelmed, hurt or disappointed, we really need eachother to gently whisper to us that joy has not abandoned us and is a steady light that will not be put out anymore than Love will. Let’s be joy whisperers for eachother when life is hard?
Back to today
So let’s be open today to experiencing the small joys that together might become great sparkling constellations of genuine gratitude over time? Can we dare to believe that the joy that God has in all His creation, including you, is something He wants you to taste and know for yourself. Joy is nourishing, it will make you stronger. Goodness knows we all need some joy these days!