The day my mother died in 2017, great Joy overcame me, and it has not gone away.
The Joy came quite unexpectedly, as I was driving to the hospital in Worcester to be with our family. And it kept increasing.
My first encounter with death was when I received word as a 10-year-old that two of my backyard friends had drowned. From that point, I have had numerous encounters with death, each one teaching me something.
Mom was a teacher. She gave my sister and me piano lessons. She taught in a one-room schoolhouse. She taught our family countless things. She is teaching now.
It has been said that, “God does not give dying blessings on non-dying days.” For me, that was no truer than when Mom died. That very day Mom taught me all about Joy. It was a lesson I wish I had learned another way.
Here is what I learned. Thanks, Mom.
Joy is a frame of mind, and a frame of reference. Joy is found through giving thanks for life, no matter what. Joy is found through acceptance of others and ourselves as we are. Having Joy does not mean we stop growing and learning; it does mean that we have stopped growing and learning to please others. Joy is found in being who we are and giving thanks for who we are becoming. Joy is the laughter that comes to us when we look at the stars or at a blade of grass and think, “Amazing!” Joy is being in awe of the waves of life happening each millisecond. Joy is discovered in being thankful that so many lives overlap with ours. Joy is found in instant friendships. No longer is there time for anything less.
It is possible to be joyful in plenty and in want. It is possible to be joyful in sorrow. It is possible to laugh in thanksgiving in the presence of grief, and as we grieve. Joy is independent of happiness and sorrow. Joy stands alone, it captures everything. Joy is found in memories, including the unpleasant ones.
Joy, that deep-seated feeling of appreciation and thanksgiving for all things; Joy, that deep-seated and tenacious feeling of the interconnectedness of all things (stardust is awesome!), will not let go even when we let go of it. Joy is seen, heard, smelled, felt, tasted, and appreciated. Joy is profoundly one of the best experiences, feelings, thoughts, and frames of reference in the entire world. Joy sits in pain. Joy rises above strife. With open affection Joy greets the world. Joy heals. Joy gives. Joy sustains. Joy laughs. Joy cries. Joy feels. Joy enriches. Joy hopes. Joy is subtle. Joy is over-the-top. Joy wonders. Joy awes. Joy thanks. Joy tastes. Joy is here. Joy is in a way of understanding creation. Joy is beyond vocabulary. Joy is beyond symbol. Joy is reality. Joy is a gift to be shared. Joy is Love’s twin.
Love one another. Live into Joy and bring people with you. Joy is divine!
Rev Jim Sinclair
Pastor Jim is the minister for First United Baptist Church