Thursday, March 13, 2014

{Take Joy}

Yesterday afternoon during the kids' piano lessons, the sun beckoned so temptingly that I was eager to take a walk to the nearby park and back. I'm in a season of life where it's rare for me to find solitude, and at times the noise -- even of just two or three little ones -- presses down so that I can hardly think. So a quiet, thirty minute jaunt through neighborhoods and park trails is often the medicine I need to regroup and refresh.

As I walked, I found myself listening closely to the sounds around me. The rustling grasses, the individual songs of various birds, the distant hum of a lawn mower, the small child attempting to guide his soccer ball down the trail (and assuring me it was okay for me to kick it back to him). There's a reason why the poets wax eloquent when spring is in the air. Life stirs and we humans think new thoughts and pursue new dreams (or revive the old ones) and anything seems possible.

While listening, I realized how easy it is to slip into the habit of forgetfulness. Forgetting to listen, forgetting to walk, forgetting to find joy in kicking a soccer ball to a little preschool boy. Winter can do that. But part of that comes with forgetting how to count. A friend recently shared that her mother had reached over 6,000 blessings in her gratitude journal. I was awed and inspired, and it made me remember. It made me remember that I had forgotten, once again, to seek joy.

My journal came out again. Even with the noise pressing in around me, I forced myself to pull back the veil and look for the blessings.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow.
Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
Take Joy!
~Fra Giovanni 

This morning I was in Luke 23, which chronicles Jesus' journey to the cross. I've read it many times, but this time around, I noticed something new. (Isn't Scripture amazing that way?) Verse 56 simply mentions the actions of the women who had been following Jesus:

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.
But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

I broke down the verses and found the beauty in the women's actions. They were in a state of grief over Jesus' death, and yet they were both active and obedient. They did what we women know so well: they went home and prepared. Don't we spend hours and hours doing that very thing, no matter what is going on around us? No matter how difficult the day (or week, or month, or year), we know that our homes are a haven in which we have much to prepare. We have the preparation of food, children, laundry, homes . . . we are constantly preparing. What if . . . just what if we were to let that preparation rise as an offering to Jesus? What if we prepared our homes as the women prepared spices and perfumes: as a fragrant offering, filled with love and deep gratitude?

And then, even in their grief, the women didn't forget: they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment. They didn't let the preparations take over. They knew how to find peace in the rhythm of time -- indeed they knew it was essential -- for there is a time for everything.

There is a time to prepare, there is a time to rest. And there is always the time to count both . . . as joy. 

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