Joy Has Always Been There
The more I choose joy in the face of challenging circumstances, the easier it becomes to recognize that JOY has always been there. As I walk through my home on this day, a feeling of contentment and effortless joy floats across my awareness. I’m simply putting something away in the small spare bedroom that doubles as meditation and guest room, and yet as I look around I am filled with a joy that seems to purely emanate from within each cell of my body. It is as though I am awash in a feeling that has really had no beginning because it has always been there, just beyond my awareness – sometimes just beyond my grasp, but still always there. Waiting for me to wake up to its existence.
This house does not belong to me, nor is it terribly impressive. It’s old, in need of a few repairs, including paint and new carpets, so it’s not that the beauty and impressiveness of the PLACE has created this feeling. The furnishings are mostly 2 nd-hand – bookcases that have lived elsewhere long before coming to rest against these walls. A bed and chest of drawers that do not go together and have been with me through 3 moves and more than triple that many years. A desk with parts that don’t match – all of which were given to me by various friends and really only two pieces of furniture that I bought new myself. No, the furniture certainly isn’t of a quality on its own to elicit such feelings of gratitude and joy.
And as I walk through the rest of my house, viewing it with new eyes now, I see again the little special things that were the loving, thoughtful gifts of friends – a candle, a small vase or stuffed animal, a set of dishes. Birthday cards or “just-because” greetings that mean so much more because of what has been written next to the printed words inside, and the love with which they were given. Posters, photos, and paintings – not created by someone famous and not worth a great deal of money to anyone else. Instead these are posters that represent ideas I hold dear, photos of people I love, artwork made just for me by friends who are no less gifted than those famous folks – just not yet “discovered” for their own brilliance. These things all remind me of the incredible love that is in my life and the people with whom I share the closest expression of that love.
No, there is nothing worth a great deal of money here in this place I call home. The “things” that surround me are just “things” and I know that this joy that I feel in the deepest part of my heart does not come from them. I realize that over these past several years as I have struggled through the challenges that have confronted me, time and again I remembered to be grateful for the love in my life, and made the choice for joy. Sometimes a difficult choice at the time, it was always the place I would retreat to. What I realize today is that it’s no longer something I really think about – it just happens that I go to gratitude and joy when there is a challenge.
It doesn’t mean that I am never sad and I am certainly NOT immune to difficulty or distress – these things are still as much part of my life as anyone else’s. It is just that there is this undercurrent of gratitude and joy, like the flow of a deep and silent river, the movement of which isn’t visible from the surface. Simply walking through my home – this very humble residence – somehow today I recognize the deep undercurrent that has been there all along. There is a feeling of such profound contentment and happiness – a joy that truly surpasses my ability to comprehend.
After thinking about and experiencing this feeling for several hours, Spirit whispered into my ear to write. The sentence I was given as the foundation for this article is the one at the beginning: “The more I choose joy in the face of challenging circumstances, the easier it becomes to recognize that JOY has always been there.” And the message that I am to share here is that this can be true for anyone. Choose JOY, no matter what. Choose to dig down and locate the gratitude and love that are at the core of your life when other circumstances would pull you away. And then hold fast to the current of joy that they bring and follow its course. You will one day find that you no longer need to look for it when challenging things happen because it will be your constant companion.
I am proof positive that a person can look at a faded couch cover that hides a thread-bare hand-me-down sofa, bookshelves that have been repaired and patched, and inexpensive knick-knacks here and there around a house that does not belong to me and without any prompting feel an overwhelming and all-encompassing sense of gratitude and joy. Joy is always there, just as love is always there – and the reason is the same. It’s because Spirit is the source of both, and Spirit is always there.
Loving Spirit, may each of us discover our own way to choose joy. Grant us the ability to find it even in the face of the hurts and difficulties of our lives. Help us to notice, with gratitude in our hearts, that joy has been there all along – waiting to be uncovered and experienced in each and every moment.