A Wonderful Morning
Today is the Birthday of one of my readers who is also a dear friend. Lucky me, I got to go on a 30 K bike ride with her, first thing this morning. Blue sky, sunshine, light breeze and the heat was just right. I love Birthdays, as some of you know by now, and treat each one as a great privilege. It is an added bonus to be strong and healthy and I don’t take it for granted for one moment. Furthurmore, I will celebrate with delight these days and bike rides and special moments.
As of tomorrow, I will be fully vaccinated. I received my 2nd shot two weeks ago, which makes my immune system at the ready to rebuff Covid 19 and its variants. At the least it should keep me out of the hospital and at the best I should be able to visit my wonderful cousins in the Maritimes, by the end of July. I look forward to the drive, the chaos, laughter, and love that always accompanies these joy filled reunions.
It seems everyday I have something to celebrate from the time I wake up. For instance: my grandchildren’s convocation (virtual), end of terms, and generally speaking making it through this challenging time. The beauty of nature. A note from a friend. A moving piece of music. The radiance of a tree; a stone wall covered with a rambling rose; a glimpse of a yellow finch or the red-winged black that streaked through the air at eye level in front of our bikes this morning. And my weekly retreat hour in Emma Rooney’s Forest Bathing Studio. It takes me immediately to a slow and gracious time.
Coincidentally, I also read an article in Tricycle about the complications of joy – celebrating, taking joy in the joy of others and enjoying the good things in our own lives, when so much is wrong with the world. Is this selfish and thoughtless to readily love the world and its inhabitants, when so much misery exists?
wrote an intriguing article on her own struggles with joy, especially around the term mudita, which means taking joy in the joy of others. She suggests that if we can’t take joy in our own lives right now that it may be worth practicing mudita- taking joy in the joy of others.
“The complicated relationship we have with joy came to mind last year when so many people were dying from COVID-19 and when so many Black lives were lost to police brutality. Friends repeatedly said a variation of the following: “I’m good. I feel so guilty saying that. I know everything is awful, but I’m well.” Their voices would drop in volume by the end of the sentence as if to say I don’t deserve to have you take joy in my joy. I might even be a terrible person for enjoying my life in the midst of so much pain.
Jill Shepherd, (a Buddhist teacher) though, insisted that mudita was necessary right now. ‘It’s precisely because there’s so much suffering in the world that I’ve needed to make the effort to turn toward non-suffering, toward gladness or joy, in order to restore myself so that I can face life’s challenges.’ She was right. Joy can be restorative. It can be akin to a good meal: nourishing and necessary. This made me reconsider…”
Life is full of difficulties. It comes with being alive and there are no exemptions. Or at least I know of none. My experience shows me that when I can notice the joyful moments that are also in the world, I am better able to manage the challenges.
This poem offers a good reminder of things to remember.
Go into this week
with the attitude that
your health of mind,
and your heart
mean more than
getting everything else done.
That your smile matters,
That feeling rested matters.
That holding the hand
of your loved ones matter.
So pause lots,
function at a pace
that doesn’t pull you apart.
Honour the things that
make you feel good inside,
the things that make you feel alive.
Give time to those things this week.
Make time the gift it is,
by giving it to what really matters to you.
— S.C. Lourie of Butterflies and Pebbles
Note 1:) The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. Brother David Steindl-Rast
Note 2:) The summer season is short. I find it beautiful with a certain carefreeness that I don’t experience at any other time. Let’s not miss it and only notice summer after it is gone. I invite you to notice something beautiful each day of this summer season. You might jot it down. Your summer treasures of 2021.
Note 3:) Thank you for clicking here and reading this blog post. I am honoured and grateful to each one of you. May you have a lovely week and if it is a difficult one may you give yourself a tiny break by still noticing one beautiful thing each day. This does not mean by any stretch of the imagination, to be a “positive thinking” person. Rather, I see it as realistic thinking. The truth is, life can be devastating and we must face that head on and do our best to work with what is, and grieve our losses. Yet, it is true that there are many beautiful things to notice everyday and by teaching ourselves to pay attention to one of them we may rediscover our grit, a moment of joy, and even the wonder of being alive.
Note 4:) Thanks to Robert-Collins on Unsplash for the joyful image of the children.