For the past year, I have contemplated joy and many facets of joy in various ways. Joy is often viewed as a lightweight, pink-bubbly, happy feeling, and sometimes it is, sometimes it is not. We hear it all over the place now, joy, joy, joy. However, through a whole year of walking and contemplating the deeper depths of joy, I am cultivating and re-discovering an even deeper joy. Joy oftentimes is birthed in the deep dark crevasses of turmoil or what seems to be chaos. Sometimes the chaos is not a tomb but a womb; something new is coming into creation.
I thought about things like…What happens when life comes crashing in on you? What happens to your joy then? What happens what someone yells at you or misunderstands you? What happens to your joy then? What happens when there is so much fear and anxiety all around you and broadcasted at you day and night, 24/7?
For me, I had to really dig in with my spiritual practices…walking, meditation, prayer, empathy, and kindness. I started out early in 2020 consciously stepping into a greater awareness that we were entering a time in which we would have to be EXTRA, EXTRA, EXTRA kind to one another. And I emphasized those three big extras on purpose because the level of anxiety was just beginning to spiral upward exponentially as the pandemic and election cycle churned up and got people into an exacerbated frenzy. I could see that it didn’t take much to send people over the edge, so to speak. A misunderstanding could get sparked in a nano-second. Our brains could get triggered very easily. It seems we were all (well…many of us) at fight/flight/freeze mode all the time, not to mention the added layers of grief, lots of grief. So, I learned to turn that kindness and compassion towards myself as well. We have to fill our cup, so that we can be ready to aid others.
After George Floyd’s killing, I even adjusted my intake of social media. I set a timer for 15 minutes. As much as I thought I wanted connection, I soon realized the pseudo-connection on social media could not take the place of true intimacy, empathy, and compassion that I, and so many others, were longing for. I finally settled on a regimen of healthy foods, walking, and contemplative practices that sustained me more than the constant electronic newsfeeds. I also scheduled an online call with my family, joined my spiritual community and book study groups online, in the proper balance, of course, being careful not to overbook myself.
I feel that over the past year joI have been blessed to see joy’s sustaining power. When we go through the storms of life, joy can renew us, strengthen us, and bolster us up in ways that are surprising. It is amazing what can happen as we begin noticing the little things for which we can be grateful. When I am out walking, I notice the vibrant colors on the corner flower bed by the front driveway. I notice how loud the birds are calling to each other in the morning. I could distinguish the different, high-pitched squeak of the baby birds from the squawk of the grown birds. Sometimes I stopped listening to music or podcasts in order to listen to my own inner thoughts and to allow gratitude to rise. I am even loving the pattern of the stark naked, leafless trees and the beautiful pattern of the branches. All this brings a much needed renewal for my journey in order to continue doing what is mine to do in these times.
One day the most powerful but simple prayer of all came to me…It went something like this:
I love you.
For days, all I could hear in my quiet pounding on the concrete sidewalks, was…Yes…thank you…and I love you. This prayer rested on my heart for over a week. It was so soothing. There was a stillness in my soul, a peace-be-still moment in between each word. And it was like something was saying it was enough – – there was no more that needed to be said to the all-knowing Presence, Peace, Power, and Principle of all life. Just be with it.
In 2018, after three years in church ministry, I re-entered the corporate space to work and support myself again. So as I am re-building, re-shaping, re-imagining, and possibly re-interpreting what a JOY ministry will look like, I hope you will join me in re-imagining a world that works for all. That is my joy, seeing a world that works in more humane, equitable, compassionate ways. I will keep moving toward more joy, a deeper joy, a satisfying joy, a spiritually-rooted joy which I believe can bring us through this time of awakening and shifting and rebounding into greater heights and expressions of being one in Spirit, one body. Dismantling and dissolving what separates us is the great work before us, and I believe joy is the sustaining force to ground us, if we plan to be in this for the long haul.
So for now I will say, go in peace, love, wisdom, and joy. Be Peace. Be Love. Be Wise. Be Joy.
Love & joy always,