Week Four, Day Five Joy
I invite you into the prayer practice of Visio Divina in this moment.
Breathe in to the count of three...exhale to the count of six or seven.
Breathe in the One who colors with every crayon in the box...exhale those voices that say there is only one right color.
Breathe in hope...breathe out what distracts and causes you despair.
Breathe in peace and wholeness so that you can feel God's fingerprints on your life...breathe out what is numb.
Breathe in joy that is being cultivated...breathe out those nagging negative voices that demand all our attention and allegiance.
Look at the image and let your eyes stay with the very first thing that you see. Keep your attention on that one part of the image that first catches your eye. Try to keep your eyes from wandering to other parts of the picture.
Have you ever felt like you had to go see or do something, but the bridge was out? You couldn't get to your destination quickly or easily? That where you wanted to go or where you were being beckoned would be a tough journey? Breathe deeply and let yourself gaze at that part of the image for a minute or so.
Consider the following questions:
What emotions does this image evoke in you?
What does the image stir up in you, bring forth in you?
Does this image lead you into an attitude of prayer? If so, let these prayers take form in you. Write them down if you desire.
You can't get there from here.
Maybe you've heard that phrase from a gas station attendant when you were out driving and got lost.
Maybe you've heard that in your job when you wanted a promotion.
Maybe you've felt that deep in your soul in a relationship where you longed for more, but the other said, "No".
You can't get there from here when the bridge is broke, and the concrete is crumbling.
You can't get there from here when there are too many obstacles and boulders that block your way.
Yet, the promise of cultivating joy is that God who sang stars into creation, parted the seas, wandered the desert for forty long years, and when the time was ripe decided to be born in a stable, our God is known for making a way when there is no way. When you think, "I can't get there from here,” the sacred keeps stirring, swirling, and singing.
No, I could not walk out on that broken pier to touch the evergreen tree in the photo.
But I could've taken a kayak or waded in the water.
When I think there is no way, God's creativity comes into my life, swirling through the cacophony or chaos helping me see a new path or a different way and sometimes a different destination.
Joy is finding a way through the fog to get to the place where our souls long to be. This truth is woven into almost every story and your story is the proverbial parable of the hero's journey. The hero's journey always starts when she leaves home, taking a leap of faith into the unknown and impossible. The hero's journey always involves others thinking or saying, "You are on a fool's errand! You can't get there from here!" The hero's journey always goes through struggle and setbacks. Whether we are speaking about Harry Potter or Rey from the recent Star Wars movies or just about any novel you read. What makes the story interesting isn't that the person went from A to Z in the blink of an eye and the greatest of ease. It is the persistence, it is the pain, and it is the person keeping on when everything looks like it is against her.
It is what draws us into the story. This is true in the universal sense, but also in particular ways that makes your story uniquely and beautifully yours. It is, my belief, that in the moments when the struggle is real and even raw, the traces of grace are like threads of love helping us discover joy even here in this moment. Suddenly, there is a way to there from here.