As much as I love to see this kind of joy, I rarely feel it inside myself. Though I am happy in my heart, I would not call it unbounded joy. Even if I feel that everything is wonderful, I still notice something I could have done better. Other times, I feel a twinge (or more) of guilt for things being so good. Often, I simply feel undeserving. Whatever the reason, something inside holds me back from feeling pure, unmitigated joy.
I do generally feel incredibly grateful, especially for seemingly simple things. I am grateful for being able to get a glass of water when I am thirsty, for being able to go outside or open a window when I want fresh air, and for having friends who forgive my many shortcomings and generously fill my life.
Most recently, I feel gratitude for being able to start a chemo holiday and then, the next day, leave Boston for Arizona to begin a week-long physical holiday with my husband and sons. I carried more than a twinge of guilt on behalf of others who are dealing with cancer and cannot take a break from it, and for being lucky enough to be able to travel when I know that it is a luxury for many. The guilt is not strong enough for me to cancel the trip, but it does make me hold back some of the joy.
While we were away, there came Marathon Monday and the events that followed. Not that I could have done anything to help in Boston, and it was probably much better for all of us that we were away, but I had some trouble reconciling the events back home with the calm and relaxing atmosphere in Arizona.
In the middle of that week, we stopped at the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. This tiny chapel added a religious element to the awe-inspiring and spiritual feel of Sedona. We spent awhile simply sitting quietly in the chapel; the boys and I lit candles and said a few prayers.
Because we live in a commercial culture, the Chapel generously provides a gift shop. Before leaving the chapel, we explored the gift shop where I saw a marble stone with this carving:
Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances…
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always.
If it is in the bible to be joyful, perhaps in the name of God I can push aside a little of whatever it is holding back the joy and know that it is okay to fully express the joy and the blessings of the moment.
I hope you are feeling joy, that it expands your heart and your world, because I do know that it lifts us all and gives me yet another reason to give thanks, even while I am still working on being joyful.