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Recently I had the opportunity to attend a
lecture on joy, presented by a dear friend.
Her talk encompassed multiple areas of
joy as a part of healing. During one
segment, she asked the group to think of
a time when we experienced joy. My mind
immediately went to the birth of my son, the ultimate moment of pure, unadulterated elation.
Despite the events in our lives and in our world, I believe everyone can pull up at least one moment of pure joy. For many, myself included, pain, abuse, betrayal, loss, torment, trauma, drama …can impede or interrupt joy. This is where our ability to choose becomes significant.
On the days when everything seems bleak and unyielding, the last thing I want to do is to connect with anyone. I know I am not alone with this thought. Invariably, these tend to be the days when staying at home behind closed doors is not possible. I am grateful for these days. These are the days when I see the effect of my choices.
Joy is not elusive. When we stand in the throes of anger, pain, regret, doubt, loss, and uncertainty, sometimes the shadows are all we see. I am not, by any means, advocating ignoring the realities of our world. We are in a state of crisis. Our lands, water, air; and natural resources are all at risk. Our basic fundamental human rights are teetering on a precarious precipice. Hate, racism, and violence against people of color, of women and children, of innocent immigrants, of other religions, cultures and beliefs, as well as anyone in the LBGT community is prevalent. We have to continue to take a stand. We have to stand up against the blatant abuse. As horrifying as it is, there are people in ‘power’ who choose to exploit and for lack of a better explanation, offer the golden ticket for the same.
So when does joy come into play when we are fighting against the hate, violence and destruction? All of the time, especially when we braid up and take a stand against injustice!
In those moments of despair, the smallest fragment of joy speaks to the soul, allowing us to find a spark of hope, a flash of inspiration that can bring about change.
My parents and grandparents all watched the news. My Mother records the news on multiple channels and consumes it avidly. I chose years ago to not sit and absorb the broadcasts. Staying informed doesn’t mean one has to soak up the vitriol. News broadcasts are often sensationalized to increase the emotional response of the viewers as well as the ratings. Psychologically it does affect us in negative ways, to the point of catapulting one into depression, increased aggression, fear, and anxiety.
Our emotional, spiritual, physical and mental well-being needs joy. We need to have a counter to the barrage of hostility and fear. When we consider our Ancestors, each day began with gratitude and prayer.
In times of need, when the harsh reality stands before us, it up to us to make a choice to seek out a moment of peace, of joy to nourish the soul.
Joy is everywhere around us, if you are willing to acknowledge it. This morning, I sat and watched a small House Sparrow pick up seeds one by one to deposit into the waiting mouths of its three young. Blue Jays and Doves ate alongside of them, and all were oblivious to the squirrels picking out the prized sunflower seeds. This was a moment of joy. Watching my Boston Terrier later in the day as she slept contently in the shade gifted me with more. Hearing my neighbor’s children laughing as they jumped on the trampoline added to my feast of joy. These moments of joy are priceless.
On those days when I feel the heaviness settling around me, I make a choice. The days when I would prefer to hide out; I make a commitment to embrace joy and to offer it to someone else. The smallest gesture on our part may be monumental to the receiver in ways we may never know or comprehend.
The injustices of the world pierce fragile hearts, wounding deep to fester, with scars unseen to the human eye. Find the joy within, nourish it and gift it to yourself and others. Joy is a feast to soothe the soul; it is an honoring to ourselves, to the Ancestors and to those who will come.
With gratitude to my friend Carol, for your exuberant joy, little purple bears and good chocolate.