Joy is one of the most sacred, healing and enlivening energies in the universe. It is at the heart of many of the celebrations of this season. It is also easily overshadowed by the cultural expectations, emotional investment and economic drive of these last days before Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I want to call us back to this transformative flow of joy as the best possible gift to both give and receive this season and throughout the coming year.
Why do I cling to my barriers to Joy? I, along with many adult humans, have learned that there is something dangerous about this illusive force. There are some powerful myths that we seem to take in with our mother’s milk and never question throughout our lives. One of these is that if you allow yourself to feel joy, with every cell of your being, that the next experience in your life will be one of tragedy and loss. We have been conditioned to believe that joy is a gift that at any moment will be snatched from our hands and sent crashing to the floor, to teach us never to reach for it again.
As a defense, our mind calls joy a “soft emotion,” appropriate for small children and elderly relatives. Those of us with any common sense know that it is dangerous and not to be trusted. But that is only because it is so very powerful in transforming our perception of the world, and therefore the quality of our lives.
Joy rises from that place of mystery, between unseen energy and visible expression in the world. When joy emerges, it comes as an irresistible force, almost volcanic in power, bursting forth from deep within. Joy is what makes the sprout push upward through the soil into the sunshine. It is what drives the beat of the drum and the soaring of the music. Joy makes the flames of the fire leap and dance. It is joy that wells up within the human dancers, fueling their exuberance and movement. When it breaks out from the core of our being, it changes everything we see, hear, taste, touch, intuit.
Consider the truly joy-filled people you have encountered in your life. You have surely met at least one person whose whole being shines with light, love, and peace. These are not naive or feeble-minded individuals. They have lived life fully, experiencing both happiness and sorrow, illness and health, gains and losses. They have also learned the secret to overcoming the fear that joy will lead inevitably to grief. They have discovered the power of gratitude. Gratitude for what brings them joy, but also gratitude for everything that occurs in their lives.
I would invite you to consider this simple opening to joy:
Each morning, as my day begins, I sing my gratitude to the elements of nature and all the living beings who share the beauty of this place. I ask to live in harmony and balance. I offer my thanks for my life, this land and the man I share my life with.
As evening comes, I offer gratitude for everything that happened during the day. Everything. Sometimes it is a new awareness of how petty and self-absorbed I am, and how I let anger and fear take too much of my day. Other times wisdom or friendship have taken me to a new place of understanding. Whatever has happened, I welcome it as a gift to help me see my unique human experience on the Earth. All that is revealed adds to my willingness to question the barriers I carry that keep me from living in freedom, simplicity and joy.
In this season, may we all follow the lead of the little ones and old folks who laugh freely and sing playfully. May we enjoy those who are openly light-hearted and shine their love into our lives. May we find joy infectious and irresistible.
In the words of the song from Three Dog Night:
Singin’ joy to the world
All the boys and girls now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me