Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the bursts of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.
I dreamed a few years back that I was in a supermarket checking out when I had the stark and luminous and devastating realization—in that clear way, not that oh yeah way—that my life would end. I wept in line watching people go by with their carts, watching the cashier move items over the scanner, feeling such an absolute love for this life. And the mundane fact of buying groceries with other people whom I do not know, like all the banalities, would be no more so soon.
We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil.
~Jack Gilbert, from A Brief for the Defense
Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
The following quote came to me “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” (Joseph Campbell). I don’t know whether this will resonate with you at all, but there’s something about that invitation, to constantly come back to the place inside us which can (and does) feel the tender (and sometimes exuberant!) pulse of joy – and recognition of a far vaster picture – that feels very compelling to me.
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
What if we joined our sorrows, I’m saying. I’m saying: What if that is joy?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
(Curated and adapted for KUF from the 2021 Soul Matters materials for the theme ‘Opening to Joy’ by Rev. Beckett Coppola.)