A few days ago I started writing something more about the word I have adopted for the year: “Joy.” I didn’t publish it because I wasn’t satisfied. It was too picky and subtle, not quite joyful. I was saying that big Joy is really rare and you have to learn to get along with the little joys, like daffodils for $2.50 a bunch in the supermarket when real spring is still waiting to come out from under the snow and mud.
But right about then I was hit by a big Joy. My grandson, who was due at the end of March, was born two weeks early and perfect, healthy, beautiful in every way. I felt like a 5-year-old who’d been waiting FOREVER for Christmas to come and then it came in the middle of December when I wasn’t expecting it. Instant, surprising gratification.
The birth of little Ethan Christopher suddenly made sense of the vision board I’d just put together around the Joy theme.
A month or so ago, in a morning with friends, I ripped a bunch of pictures from magazines, and then, several weeks later in a self-directed retreat, I made this collage.
As I put together those ripped-out pictures, the meaning emerged. Joy is the heartbeat of the Universe echoed in all things and all souls, and joy is participating in that, dancing to it, unfolding and blooming to it, swimming in it.
Even so, joy is usually just a tiny hint, a tug of beauty or rightness felt in the heart or the solar plexus. Like being attached by an umbilical cord to the Infinite and getting a hit of sweetness through it. All the things in the picture did that for me.
I am especially pleased with a trio of images that came together in the lower center, under the gardenia, right to left: a plain little singing bird; a woman with her arms raised in praise or supplication with a third, shadow arm between them (suggesting Divine participation in this); and the actual picture of a solar flare that, positioned in this way, looks like a woman. These images seem particularly harmonious and define, better than words, the joy to which I aspire this year.
But now and then Joy comes together full blast and sweeps you into its vortex, like the swirling gardenia and the sweeping wings of the eagle. The ordinary, everyday, absolutely miraculous birth of a child into your family is this kind of Joy.
The song that echoes in my head is Three Dog Night’s raucous 1971 hit:
Joy to the world
All the boys and girls
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me
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