Ordinary Joy: Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: Brené Brown)
There was a time not long ago when I wasn't exactly sure what joy is. It had been so long since I had any that I just didn't know what it felt like anymore. Those days are gone, thankfully, and joy, both ordinary and extraordinary, have returned to my life.
For me, joy is more a state of being than an experience. Certainly my experiences can bring joy, but if I am not open to feeling it, the most common joyful time will not break through the darkness and fill me up. I've learned there are things I can do to cultivate my heart so that joy can be experienced. Writing, journaling, exercising, spending time outside, listening, laughing...all of these are ways I make room for joy to take hold.
It's hard for me to choose one most joyful ordinary moment. There are many everyday, from the moment I wake up lying next to the person I love to the first deep breath of fresh air when I step outside or the time spent around the lunchroom table with colleagues and students and again at the kitchen table having dinner with Lisa. I feel joy when a goat nudges up against me, nibbling at my coat sleeve or when I watch lambs and kids hop around the barnyard. Jai, whose very name is an expression of joy, exudes it running around the farm at top speed. It's present when I introduce prospective students to the seminary and the great things offered there and when I sit with my small group for the ITE class and watch as the group members discover new ideas for the first time. Joy fills my chest when I hear the laughter and chatter from the porch at the cabin on the night of a farm table dinner, the gasps of delight when guests take first bites of each course brought out to them.
I agree that our most profound joy is often experienced in the most ordinary moments. I think this is true because it isn't the experience itself that causes joy. Joy comes when we are awake to it, when our hearts have been opened by grace, and we know that it's the ordinary things in our lives that save us everyday. It's an expression of our deepest delight in being alive.