By: Diana Shellenberger
“I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play.”—Anne Lamott
Amen. Because there is only a little more I can add about the necessary role joy can and must play in the life we share.
In a world full of problems to solve, joy is too often at the bottom of our to-do lists. These days I feel like it actually needs to be at the very top, to be light enough to experience and express awe and gratitude. Expecting to be wowed is both a way to get lighter and a portal to joy.
Don and I recently visited our son Patrick whose semester abroad has taken him to University of Glasgow. One of the trip’s many highlights was a drive up the single-track road depicted in “Skyfall,” when Bond drives M to his childhood home. It was raining intermittently—it is Scotland, after all—but the rain did not detract from the picturesque countryside, with its grand sweep of mountain and river and meadows dotted with sheep. We inched along from Glencoe to coastal Oban, because there were so many gasp worthy sights I kept asking Don to pull over. This photo of Achnambeithach Cottage is my favorite and distills the pleasure of the journey.
But really, one does not need to go all the way to Scotland to discover joy, because joy is possible wherever you are. It can be as simple as watching the sunrise at breakfast and the sunset before supper, enjoying the shades and striations of color and honoring the beginning and end of the day. Take a moment to really look at your partner, family, friends, colleagues and pets and appreciate the connection you have with them all. Even breathing can be a source of joy. After my dad died, I relished breathing, imagining I was breathing in his stead. It kept me connected to him, to how he was still part of me even in his absence,
As churchlings, we can all give and take joy in sharing the abundant life our congregation has to offer. I am regularly wowed by the faith, talent and love we share in service to Christ and to each other.