This was one of those splendid moments when the intricacies of little boy movement and camera phone timing timing alligned, and I was graced with a picture worth a thousand words. The caption is obvious: "If you're happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it!" I love that my little guy is so happy so often. His happiness is contagious. It is the seed of so much joy in my life. My daily goal is to allow that joy to take root and produce something beautiful in me.
I think finding joy in the moment, not tied to any outcome or product or circumstance, is a powerful spiritual discipline. I really, really try to practice it. Some times it is easier than others. It would seem that joy and self-discipline should be mutually exclusive concepts. Joy is so in-the-moment. Discipline is so, well . . . disciplined. You know: thought out, premeditated, planned. How can joy be all those things?
Hmm. Thoughtful joy. Premeditated joy. Intended joy.
I've been pondering the concept of intention alot lately. I believe it holds the key to marrying spontanious joy with one's daily rhythm. It's all about what we choose to attend to, what we allow ourselves to be preoccupied with, where we are willing to develop receptivity. In other words, we make up our minds ahead of time to pay attention to the things that spark gladness within us. It's that simple. And when we find something that ignites a spark we attune our senses to it, noticing it more and more, so that it grows bigger. We cultivate a joyful life in the same way one cultivates a garden, a talent, a hobby.
But there is that thing within me that wants to save my spontaneously beautiful, joyful moments for that time in my life when all is well and there are no loose ends. It's almost like I want to be able to anticipate correctly the stuff coming at me. I don't want to waste these productive, preparatory moments on joy when I could be worrying. I mean, doesn't worrying about the future make it better? Give me an edge on conquering it?
Sounds silly when I write it out loud. Yet it's there, like the itchy place in the middle of my back that I cannot reach no matter how I contort my arms. I think worrying gives me the pretension of control, whereas joy is such an out-of-control place to be. To be truly joyful means to be truly surrendered. It is to give oneself over to full attention on something besides oneself.
It takes faith to be joyful. Joy-full. Because you have to trust that Someone bigger than yourself is leading you into the present moment, and that same Someone is holding all the moments to come. It is a total relinquishment of heart and mind space. Instead trying to arrange one's life into a neat and tidy and palatable package, you have to abandon that focus altogether, choosing instead to be present in the here and now. Choosing to be glad. It is impossible to be glad and to worry; to be glad is to be holy. Because the Holy has gotten our attention, and we've gone with it instead leaning upon our own understanding.