joyful, joyful

Become aware of what is in you. Announce it, pronounce it, produce it and give birth to it. ~ Meister Eckhart

The Resources

A lectio passage

Just a short text for you to dwell with this week, which is actually a more normal size for chewing over and engaging with in the up close and personal style of this approach to reading. Although it may seem like there isn’t much to go on here, take some time to be present to the journey of the last few weeks as you sit with these verses. 

As you let your questions, observations and reflections rise into awareness, follow the flow of their unfolding in the way that you have found useful – write in a journal, create a piece of art, respond with music, talk it out with God…

The prompts

Here’s what I noticed and wondered over: The good news of great joy seems so simple. How have you heard it?

There is a slippery quality to joy. It is not static or containable or even particularly predictable. Joy may arrive unbidden in the midst of dire circumstances; joy may be absent in the midst of great celebration. 

If we are to allow ourselves to feel joy we must also be willing to be vulnerable to loss; we must be willing to admit and embrace how precious and how deeply we treasure something or someone.

Often we find that unbearable, and choose instead to attempt some kind of protective shielding of our hearts. This usually means we limit our ability to recognise and respond to love and so miss out on the fullness of joy.

How do you receive joy and live it? How do you share joy – your own and others’?

Are you aware of ways that you might be limiting your response to love?

From the well of Wisdom…

When you do things from your soul, the river itself moves through you.
Freshness and a deep joy are signs of the current. ~ Rumi
Even if you have a lot of work to do, if you think of it as wonderful,
and if you feel it as wonderful, it will transform into the energy of joy and fire,
instead of becoming a burden.
~Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

Find the thing that stirs your heart and make room for it. Life is about the development of self to the point of unbridled joy. 

Joan Chittister

Practices

Gratitude

Recognising that in almost every circumstance there are things to be grateful for can be a doorway to joy because it opens the heart to receive life as gift, re-orients our attitude towards abundance and sufficiency rather than scarcity and lack and moves us out of fearful containment and back into the unfolding flow of divine Love – the engine of the universe.

Some gratitude practices:

Take a thankful walk 

Not necessarily as a special event, but as you walk places today – from the car into the house, from your desk to wherever you go next, from the bus to the office…what do you notice to be grateful for? How wide and deep can you let your attention go as you open to the simple, everyday, taken for granted elements of your life?

Lean in to love

See if you can catch yourself pulling back, shielding, entertaining fears and forebodings or whatever else you might do to protect yourself from love and loss. And then gently lean in with curiosity and compassion….see what you can open to… If you can learn to welcome your self, to offer compassionate acceptance to your own heart, thoughts and story, then your self-acceptance is practising the radical hospitality of the gospel. 

Lighten up

It’s easy to be overly earnest, serious and goal oriented about everything in our lives — including practice —which is a sure way to be a killjoy. A joyful heart is simple, ordinary and relaxed, childlike with curiosity and delight. So lighten up. Remember you have a sense of humour and engage it.

You can practice lightening up by:

  • letting yourself laugh and delighting in celebrating the good, even the ordinary good.
  • Being curious about where you feel ho-hum or solemn, paying attention and then doing something different – sometimes it’s helpful just to change the pattern. Anything out of the ordinary will help. You can go to the window and look at the sky, you can splash cold water on your face, you can sing while you cook, you can swing, dance, shimmy, shake it up — anything that’s against your usual pattern. 
  • Delight fully in something – a simple pleasure. Savour it, engaging all your senses and responding with them too, letting yourself get carried away by the whole experience. 

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