Monday, July 24, 2006

Surprised by Joy?

Henri Nouwen writes: "The world in which we live wants to suprise us by sorrow. Newspapers keep telling us about traffic accidents, murders, conflicts between individuals, groups and nations and the television fills our minds with images of hatred, violence and destruction. And we say to one another: "Did you hear that, did you see that.......isn't it terrible....who can believe it? Indeed it seems the powers of darkness want to continue to surprise us with human sorrow. But, these surprises paralyze us and seduce us to an existence in which our main concern becomes survival in the midst of a sea of sorrows. By making us think about ourselves as survivors of a shipwreck, anxiously clinging to a piece of driftwood, we gradually accept the role of victims, doomed by the cruel circumstances of our lives."

"The greatest challenge of faith is to be surprised by joy."

Have you ever been involved in a heated discussion on the "ills" of this world only to be interupted by a child who is anxiously excited to share something with you? Have you ever been feeling down in the doldrums, when all of a sudden something occurs that snaps you back into a more positive frame of mind that puts your negative thinking state into perspective?

When was the last time you were surprised by joy? This was the example the leapt to mind when I first read the excerpt:

Last week, my family and I went with another family to a local provinical park that has a nice beachy area for swimming and a boat launch right by it. Our friends brought their little outboard boat for tubing. It had been a typically hot busy summer Saturday jammed with weekend errands and chores. The news was full of terrible grief predominantly led by the headlines from the Middle East which I had been listening to on the radio as I ran around completing mindless tasks. I was not in the mood to go even though I was so hot and needed to jump in the water to cool off. My mood and thinking were just not conducive and it just seemed like to much organizing etc. It was already late in the afternoon. I was supposed to be making dinner for everyone, blahdeeblahdeeblah.................bad mood and tired. Hey, I was great company!

So, we get to the beach.....hauling crap down to the shore...........tired and sweaty and thinking negative thoughts............... when I was asked if I wanted to hop in the boat for the first round of tubers. Before I knew it I was sitting backwards in the boat spotting my daughter and her good friend as they climbed up on the inner tube for a spin. It was my daughter's first time and her friend the "pro" was giving her instructions like "Don't keep your mouth open because you might bite your tongue off when we go over a big wave.........." you know stuff that creates a feeling of dreaded anticipation?

Then we were off, pulling the girls up and down the river. What I witnessed was pure unadulterated joy. Slipping and skipping and skimming the wake, bouncing and bobbing over the waves and holding on for their dear lives...........I could hear their squealing laughter over the din of the motor. Their faces exuded joy and I was completely caught up in the moment (almost forgetting that I was spotting) laughing along with them to a point where I had tears in my eyes.

"More, more, more...bring it on!"...............they shouted as they were flung off the tube.

According to
Nouwen, joy and hope are never separate. "Hope and joy are spiritual gifts rooted in an intimate relationship with the One who loves you with an everlasting love and who will always remain faithful to you."

Moments of joy are hopeful glimpses from God? I think so..................especially when they bring light to the dark shadows that can permeate our lives.


urbanmonk said...

What i dont understand is why joy has to be so fleeting. Its almost as if you must trudge through miles and miles, weeks and weeks, of swampy shit, just to get one small sip of clear spring water(joy)

I guess its worth it though.. Just the memory of that experience of momentary freedom can keep me on my feet for days.

good post. Glad our Blogs crossed paths : )

awareness said...

Here's a theory.........

Joy has to surprise you. So, it only happens when you've stopped thinking about the previous Joyful moment and have stopped wishing for another one.

Then.........BING! You find yourself winked at by God JUST when you needed another wink.

Sunny said...

This was a wonderful post! It made me think of all the wonderful times I've spent at my cottage and the small moments that have been the quilt of my childhood. How my grandmother used to sit for hours in her chair at the window and revel in the joy we children had splashing around in the lake in inner tubes and's too bad that as children our joy is stolen from us and replaced with everything else so that joy is only measured in moments as we get older instead of being a constant. Then again, isn't that why someone invented the patio lantern?
Again, thank you for the post and the bit of inspiration.

Ellen said...

Ah, but see, joy doesn't have to be measured in fleeting moments. Ones perceptions and attitudes can guide you through the paths so that joy can be a prevailing journey.
I've come far enough (finally) in my journey of life to know that bad things will happen, and sorrow will sadden, but not long enough that I can't find my way back to joy in knowing that I can wake up another day and start all over again.
I also have the great ability to drop the "blues" and get on with business at hand... sort of like making time to stop and smell the roses at every occasion. It does wonders when we learn to work our lives from that angle, instead of waiting for it to happen for us.

awareness said...

Hi Sunny

I read your story about your grandma's cottage on your blog and I really enjoyed it. I'm glad to know that my post spawned your post........ Mine was spawned by Henri Nouwen's writing. Maybe ours will be read and will spawn another post somewhere in blogland.

Ellen........I couldn't have said it any better. We have the capacity to develop opportunities in our lives which can lead to joyful moments.

TMelendez said...