Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Joy as a Thing to be Cultivated

Yesterday was such a good day. I'd had a quiet, sweet, leisurely weekend with Ramon - we took it easy as we were both recovering from illness. I woke yesterday alert and refreshed, with "oh, goody" foremost in my thoughts - a vast departure from my normal state of mind upon rising from bed. It's usually something along the lines of "if someone killed me right now, I could sleep for as long as I liked and face life nevermore." Walking to work was refreshing and, as I said, exposed me fully to the joy of new-budding spring. I spent the day in a haze of bewildered happiness, unable to account for my lightness of heart, quick smile or gracious reactions to the usual irritations that arise in a job in the city. I wish I could convey to you how unaccustomed I am to feeling cheerful and sanguine, how rare it is that I come away from any interaction satisfied that I sought to keep the other's dignity and comfort foremost in my mind. I'm usually so surly, at least on the inside, easily injured, quick to resent and become irritated, harboring small offenses those around me have unwittingly committed in my heart much, much longer than any sane person would. Part of it is is that I've dwelt in darkness these last few months and a heart in distraction and mild despair has no grace to give anyone else. And yes, part of it is that I am not a very joyful, cheerful, sanguine, comfortable or gracious person overall.

I'm passionate, yes, interesting, sometimes amusing, mercurial and jocular. But not kind, not normally. And not happy.

Yesterday was a precious gift both in the pure happiness I felt and in the sudden clarity it afforded me. I had pleaded (with whom, I know not) for insight into myself, for some beam of light to illumine What is Wrong With Me and What Must I Do to Fix It. Well. I didn't get that, necessarily, but I got joy. I'll never know where it came from, but I had it, all day (until 1 in the morning, which is when Ramon and I finally stopped our wonderful, meaningful conversation and settled down to sleep), and I vowed to Tracy that I would do all that I could to hold it in my heart for as long as I could.

I know that happiness is unpredictable and fleeting and that moods change like the sun shining through shifting clouds (most especially in a personality like mine), but one of the good lessons I learned in the church was that joy was a thing to hold in your heart. More than happiness, it is a decision you make, every moment. You can choose joy, cultivate it, act on it, even in your darkest hour. I'm not certain how - I don't have a lesson plan for how my wish to choose joy will batter down walls of hurt, fear, anger, spite, intimidation and dishonesty that I've carefully crafted in my psyche. I don't think I'll be able to go against my unhealthy habits as easily every day as yesterday. But just as Lucy, in the Dawn Treader's escape from the Dark Island, saw the white bird guiding them to safety (amidst blinding and impenetrable darkness) and felt Aslan's breath assuring her that all would be well, perhaps my memory of my decision to live with joy will guide me if the fog (shudder to think) falls on me again.

For now I'm living a small miracle and furthermore have been given the sight, for once, of knowing it for a rare gift and being grateful for it. As I am for all of you.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never know what to say after reading your posts. You leave me with little choice but to silently soak in the observations of your life both outside and in. I promise it's not a cop-out.


3/07/2007 7:15 PM  
Blogger Morphea said...

Of course not, my sweet. Silly - you never know what to say? You always say the most beautiful things.


3/08/2007 3:02 PM  

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