Joy is different than happiness. While today I may feel happy, tomorrow I might feel sad or angry or lonely as happiness escapes me. Joy, however, doesn’t leave; it’s a permanent presence. It is a foundation that undergirds all else. Joy is an attribute or characteristic that becomes more apparent to us as we clean out the clutter in our lives, as we discern what is important and what is not, as we become more gentle and kind, as we trust that all will be well in our lives and that we have the capacity to manage the hardships. Helen Keller, Anne Frank and Gandhi were joy-full though the outer circumstances of their lives were more challenging and difficult than most of us will ever face.
The Christian world has just celebrated Easter. Christ rose from death and showed the world what it means to be truly alive. What joy there was then, and is today, in those who understand His message. Before Jesus, the Christ, came into the world, springtime celebrations in all cultures carried the same message: that life comes after suffering and darkness and death. That life is eternal and death will not destroy it. Joy is a gift inherent in understanding and accepting the natural rhythms and cycles of the year, of a lifetime. Joy is life, real life.
When our present calendar was standardized and January 1 instead of April 1 became the beginning of the new year, those who refused to accept this new system were called “April Fools.” They insisted on clinging to that which no longer had substance. Like those first April Fools, we often try to hold on to that which, if lost, would not make much difference. In fact if all that we cling to from the past were to disappear in an instant, perhaps we could more easily be “alleluia” people: those who find God in the here and now. Those who have died to the past and live again now. Those who give rather than hold tight out of some fear of loss.
Each day we get to choose to live joyously or foolishly, full or empty. I pray that each of us will discover the joy that informs us and bask in that joy as in the sunlight of a new born day!
O O O O O O O