Take Joy

Yesterday morning, sitting at my breakfast table, I counted eleven things in bloom within my sight. (Pardon this nouveau Southerner’s extavagant bragging!)

From periwinkle blues, to red bud deep pinks, to dancing waves of candy tuft whites, to forsythia yellows, to gracefully sweeping arcs of bleeding heart buds – nature is putting on an extravagant show, casting aside grey and gloom in a burst of rainbow colors and enthusiasm for new life.

This brought to mind the phrase “Take Joy,” which comes from a poem by Fra Angelico:

“. . .the gloom of the world is but a shadow: behind it, yet within our reach is joy. Take Joy!”
A simple admonition, yet one I struggle over and over to follow. There are always heartaches, hurdles, challenges, all manner of difficulties. But there is also always joy, ours for the taking, But we must decide to take it, wherever and whenever we see even the slightest glimpse of it. The smile of a friendly clerk. A flower in bloom. A child reveling in mud and sand. A joke. An unexpected serendipity. These are ours to take, in turn nurturing in us the ability to give. And so the world, weary with its griefs is a little lighter.

It’s a lesson, this “take” thing . . . the hard stuff comes to us without our “taking.” That’s true of the joyous stuff, too, but we have to notice, and consciously choose to take it The thing is, we tend to have agendas about what “joy” is going to look like. That agenda can blind us to real joys that have a different look to them.
Odd, as I think about it, that it is “easier” to see grief than to specifically choose joy. I guess that’s because our griefs are things we so dearly and deeply would wish away . . . but if we can learn to “practice joy,” perhaps we can lighten and lessen those griefs, and move in a different plane, the mysterious plane of the ultimate rightness of things.

Heady thoughts for an April day! Worth cultivating, though – that riot of color reminds me that life goes on as it is meant to, and the best response we can have is to “Take Joy!”
Happy to spring to you all – Gwen

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