'Joy is what we find on a hundred forgettable Wednesdays' ~ Tim Urban
When thinking about joy it is easy to gravitate toward the big moments in life, like our family's summer vacation. Or to think about holidays...birthdays...anniversaries...the important moments when your iphone is posed in your hand ready to snap hundred pictures. We twist and tie joy into what the world teaches us is "supposed" to lean toward that emotion. There are two struggles we often face in following this rabbit down that hole. First, the holidays ain't always what the Norman Rockwell painting promised them to be. Family tensions (especially in an era of such divisive politics) hover and hang in the air. Or we end up building up the moment so big that the slightest thing that goes awry...ruins everything. I can't even remember how many burnt sweet potato casseroles threatened to bring down Thanksgiving. Second, if we delay and defer our enjoyment until its appointed appropriate time...what does that do to the days in-between? If I have to wait to be joyful until Memorial Day...which given that it is a holiday honoring men and women who died in combat...that might need to be postponed a bit more come to think about it. So, the 4th of July! But that is two months away!?? That is why I find the quote above so helpful in this season of Easter. We need a joy that sneaks in serendipitous and then leaves by the backdoor as the trace of grace still lingers, lasts in the air. We need a joy that is fleeting and fading. Because for joy to be joy, it is always a surprise that catches us unaware and makes us laugh. Joy connects us in ordinary ways. Joy comes in a hundred forgettable Wednesdays. Because the point isn't that we can capture the moment on our phone to preserve it on the screen...as some kind of evidence that we have found joy. "Look," we say to a friend, "See us there at the Grand Canyon...that was amazing!" But what about the joy of a delicious apple that drips juice down your chin? What about the joy of watching a movie together? What about the joy of a bowl of ice cream on a warm Florida day? Joy need not only be fireworks in the sky or pumpkin pie or presents. Joy is woven in the ordinary, which is why this word is forever inter-tangled with gratitude. A deep sense of thanksgiving even with November is months away. A deep sense of praise for this day, this moment. In a world where we are always on alert and aware of the bad, the injustice, and the fact that nothing measures up...Easter says, sings, shouts..."Wait!" What about this moment? Isn't there something even here in this moment, no matter how imperfect, that might make your heart skip joyfully just a bit? Recently, Adam Grant was on the radio talking about this kind of positive psychology...saying even in the face of death, we can be grateful. That isn't to say we try to put frosting on the pain or brokenness cake we are being served. But we also say, that brokenness is not the only word. There is a both/and, a more than, we are always invited into.
So...on this Wednesday...what ordinary, everyday joy is dancing in your midst that you will forget by Friday? What make you laugh even though life isn't exactly what it is supposed to be? What brings you gratitude? For me...it is you who read this blog. For me...it is family sitting down to dinner. For me...it is this breath and the one after this one...even when I forget what a gift this breath/family/others truly are. Yet, they all remain blessing me hour after hour.
May the traces of God's grace stir and bless you on these ordinary May days.