I love this week's topic. Experiencing the bubbling up of real joy is one of the most precious, wonderful gifts life has to offer, isn't it?
Joy is possible at all ages, in multi-faceted ways. Consider these few:
- successfully riding a bike for the first time;
- picking up a squirming puppy who happily licks you;
- seeing a sparkling hummingbird sip from your feeder;
- hiking up a mountain to a spectacular vista;
- promising "I do" to the one who has captured your heart;
- holding your new born child.
But joy is not limited to wholly happy situations. Joy is possible in times of difficulty, as well. And it is as much a gift in that time, if not more, as it is in times of happiness.
While researching the background for the Civil War song, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," I was struck by the fact that this jaunty piece of music was loved—and played—by both North and South. In the midst of devastation, here was a tune that invited war-weary soldiers to continue moving forward with a smile and a song.
I remember, in the midst of great difficulties twenty years ago, listening to Larnelle Harris' song, "I Choose Joy." Each time I heard it play on the radio, I was reminded of the incredible opportunity we each have to welcome joy in the difficulties. Please believe me, I am not talking of a fake, smiley-face, pretend sort of joy. Instead, I found that moments of real joy can honestly be experienced in times of trouble.
These are a few from my life:
- laughing uproariously at a silly joke with a friend who lay dying;
- listening to a profoundly beautiful song that connected my heart to hope and life;
- sharing dark-roast coffee and precious moments of conversation with a dear friend;
- luxuriating in the comfort of a steaming hot bath;
- enumerating the blessings in my life, and seeing how they far outnumber the tragedies.
Dear friends, today I choose joy. How about you?