What is joy?

Joy is a strange, unfamiliar, important word.

I wonder is joy a distant cousin to its much better-known relative, happiness? Whilst happiness has often been commodified by the marketplace, packaged and sold, joy seems wilder, stranger, harder to contain.

I just returned from a joyful hour’s walk with a friend. What made it joyful? It was natural, emergent not manufactured. The talking ebbed and flowed. We paused along the way, periodically dropping into silence. Pain mingled with amazement, wondering with listening. Oh, and the walk cost nothing.

Whatever joy is, the poet Mary Oliver calls us to open to its gift: “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it…

And when our walk was complete, I was greeted on my return home by these bright red poppies, wild flower seeds I had helped plant earlier this year. I wonder if one of joy’s siblings is gratitude?

What ordinary moments of joy have you had recently?

One comment
  1. Dom Elton 6th September 2023 at 11:56 am

    The psalmist writes “The joy of the Lord is my strength”…this has resonated most profoundly recently when confronted with the loss of a long standing relationship…Calling on the Lord in my pain and suffering I was reminded of the ‘grace of the present moment’ in the form of the sweetest bird song, and a joy seemed to well up inside that this grace, a sign of His love, would never leave me or forsake me… there’s a Quaker wisdom saying that states “There’s a joy that the world cannot see or touch, or the powers of darkness move in to interrupt, and this joy is full of glory”…I was experiencing this joy and have continued to do so every time I open to the grace of the present moment, and with the psalmist can declare “this joy is my strength” to carry on despite the pain 💚

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