Tag Archives: Joy

Words for a new year

Queen's Anne Lace

 

Then forward, upward! and forget
all that held you back, unfree.
Onward with Jesus, deeply cleansed,
always more faithfully!
Eberhard Arnold, 1908

You have made known to me the paths of life;
You will fill me with joy in your presence.
Acts 2:28

Happy New Year, friends!

May you find yourself refreshed and renewed, cleansed and freed, filled with joy and life.

May you find time to reflect on the year past and focus on the year to come, to set goals, to forgive mistakes (yours and other’s), to dream big.

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Delight

Delight yourself in the Lord…
Psalm 37:4a

Delight: to take great pleasure in; to please greatly; extreme satisfaction

My new favorite running route takes me on the footpath around Fresh Pond. It hugs the 2.5 mile perimeter of the pond, and — aside from occasional entry points from the neighborhood streets — the path is surrounded by trees.

It’s lovely.

Yesterday evening, I arrived at the footpath via one of these entry points at precisely the same moment a boy of 7 or 8 biked past. He turned to look at me as I stepped onto the path and, at just the same time, rode directly through a gigantic puddle.

His eyes, saucer-wide, stayed locked on mine for the whole trip through the puddle.

This particular puddle was not just wet; it was muddy. Supremely muddy. And in those few seconds, this kid was covered in mud — all up his back, splattered on his face, everywhere.

It was awesome.

The perfection of our timing, combined with my knowledge that riding through a muddy puddle as a kid is the ultimate adventure, made me so happy that I grinned and giggled out loud.

The boy, who had stopped his bike, was still staring at me. When I laughed, a quiet, tiny smirk of pure pleasure crossed his face, as though my joy had given him permission to savor the moment.

Delight.

May our experience of God be as joy-filled as the trip of a 7-year-old boy through a muddy puddle. May the openness of our hearts allow us to soak up the sweetness of every moment’s perfect timing. May the strength of our communities be measured by the belly-depth of our laughter.

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The Fullness of Joy

We do not have to die to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
In fact we have to be fully alive.
Thich Naht Hahn, Touching Peace, 8

Joy: A Continual Feast

One of my favorite Buddhist teachers, Pema Chödrön, writes:

Authentic joy is not a euphoric state or a feeling of being high.
Rather, it is a state of appreciation that allows us to participate fully in our lives.
The Places that Scare You, 79

Paul made this same connection. Most people are familiar with the line “the peace of God will guard you hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” but we should take a look at what surrounds that passage:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say: rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to everyone.
The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-5

Paul connects the practice of living gently – with thanksgiving and peacefulness – with being joyful!

When you are filling your life with rejoicing, there’s no room left for worry or anxiety. You empty your life of that worry and anxiety in order to make room for gentleness and joy to fill your life, buoyed by thankful prayer.

And the result of living this kind of life? Deep, abiding peace moves in to guard your very soul.

Proverbs 15 declares that a “joyful heart has a continual feast” (Proverbs 15:15b). A continual feast! That bounty is already all around us: in God’s presence, in the beauty of our world, in the pleasures of living. It is joy that opens up our eyes to live fully into that goodness.

Practices of Fullness

So how do we actually bring this kind of authentic presence into our daily lives?

Here are five practices I use to participate fully in my life. (Note: None of these will be surprising or at all original. But these are often suggested because they are indeed effective and helpful.)

  • Mindfulness – I took a mindfulness course recently, and I’ve been using some of the really basic practices learned there: a daily practice of mindful breathing, fostering compassion for myself and those around me, bringing awareness into my body and present experience, etc.

  • Running – Running has always been an important practice for me. It gives my brain time and space to relax, to just kind of float with me while I run the beautiful neighborhoods of the East Bay. Running also helps me balance my health and sleep better.

  • Journaling – I write, a lot. I try to also let myself draw when I feel led to, even though I’m not a very gifted visual artist. I write a lot of poetry, just to be able to express emotions that are holding me, so I can better move through them.

  • Gratitude – Nothing kills anxiety like a good gratitude list. This is a practice I’d like to grow more. Listing things – small or significant – for which I’m grateful is always calming and healing for me. (If you want to develop a practice of gratitude, check out Ann’s resources.)

  • Solitude – Because I’m someone who can easily fill up my life with other people’s feelings and words, I need to be sure to practice aloneness, so I become familiar with the ground of my own experience. Usually, this means prayer, worship, or hiking for me. I take the time to really ask myself what I need to relax, and then I make space for that activity to happen.

Share with us: what practices help you cultivate joy? How do you empty your life of anxiety and worry to make room for gentleness and joy? What does it mean to you to live fully?

P.S.

Living fully alive is a big theme for me! Want to read more about why I think living fully alive is an important part of the Christian life? Check out this post or this one or this one

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Filed under My Faith Journey, Spirituality, Theology and Faith