Thursday, October 10, 2013

Week of Joy: Day 7

Frankly, today has not been one of my favorite days. As I prepare to draw this Week of Joy to a close, I would much prefer to be feeling in a positive, joyful state. I'd like to feel well physically, emotionally and spiritually so that I could send us all off in a happy state.

But it was not to be. Nothing serious, mind you - lest you kind-hearted souls worry. All the things that I've had to deal with are things I'm sure will pass or soon be resolved. 

In some ways, though this is not my preference, I see some good in it. Or rather, I see some God in it. 

As suggested in some of my postings earlier in the week, joy is not merely a transient state of feeling happy. Quite to the contrary, joy, in order to be of any significance, needs to be enduring. As with love, it is both a giving and a receiving, a sacrificing and a consolation. 

If I respond affirmatively to my own poetic question of Day 2, I must be prepared to "hold the joy" through even the darkest and most difficult seasons of my life. I cannot expect that, having said that I will follow the Way of Love, I will experience nothing but harmony and wellness thereafter.

Love that never sacrifices, that never gives, isn't really love. So too with joy. Rather than being a passing emotion, joy is a deeper knowing, a deeper commitment to not turn to negativity or sin because all is not what I want it to be.

Of course, sometimes life is really not the way we want it to be. Sometimes, despite our commitment to the Way of Love, we are cast into circumstances so terrible that we feel we cannot bear it, much less find any joy in it. 

The story of St. Francis' preaching on "perfect joy", posted on Day 1, sounds good on paper but far less good when you find that it is you who is starving, cold, beaten and rejected unfairly. To see where the joy is - where God is - at such times, is beyond the capacity of most of us.

And this is what allows me to be grateful, to see God in my not-so-great day: I do not have to do this alone. I do not have to find the beauty in my unpleasantness by being a strong or good or holy person. It does not come about by my efforts alone.

I need God.

When I think of some of the greatest of saints, when I consider how some of them endured horrific sufferings because of their commitment to the Way, I am reminded that they were able to "hold the joy" because they had a deep love relationship with the Holy One.

Whether our sufferings are large or small, there is nothing that can save us but that, there is nothing else that can bring us to the Joy.

Julian of Norwich wrote: "The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything." She did not qualify this by saying, "everything in nature" or "everything that God made". She just said "everything". 

As we journey along, praying to be led to that fullness of joy, I would like to share some simple signs of God, of joy, as balm for our souls when we are challenged. 

(Click on the image below to be taken to my album of photo images from this summer. Some will appear familiar, having been part of other holy pause postings; other are new. Several appear as mini-posters, with words accompanying the images. As always, you are welcome to download any of them for your personal, non-profit use.)

Summer 2013

{Following a brief break, I will begin posting for the Week of Light, the last of the 7 holy pauses. Comments and contributions may be e-mailed to me at}