I love the holiday season and its traditions. Though my favorite time of year is Spring, there is something comforting and cozy about the change from lighter clothes to sweat shirts and scarves, from last days at the beach or pool and back-to-school shopping, to pumpkins, then turkey dinner, followed by Christmas carols and menorahs. The smells, tastes, sights and sounds call me away for a moment from whatever pressures might pull on me. I am truly grateful for the respite and try to take in as much as I can, because the heavier things of life remain, despite the season.
I found myself praying this morning for 2 young adults…I pray for them often. I asked for healing, for encouragement, for forgiveness in their hearts, for no depression or anxiety TODAY, NOW!!! Sometimes I get tired and discouraged with how long I have been praying these same prayers for these same two people. Because I care so deeply for them, some days I am the one who needs prayers for these same things as I fight my own mental and spiritual battle. It is difficult to watch people I care about suffer, both from things that are not their fault, and things that they have done or not done which enhance their difficulties.
But fortunately, I have come a long way in my own journey. Now, when I become overwhelmed by their circumstances or my concern for them, I usually end up simply praying or meditating, “God, your will be done”. Once I read in a story that your will be done is the “prayer that never fails”. I liked that…it is now where I often go. I know for me, that prayer usually brings me to a place of peace and relief.
This morning, as I ran through the litany of things I wanted for them, it hit me: what I truly want for each of them, what I want for me, for everyone, is JOY…that sense of peace, hope, wellbeing, no matter the circumstances.
Somewhere I heard these definitions: Happiness is temporal; it depends on what is happening right now, on circumstances being what I want them to be. Joy depends on nothing temporal, nothing being the way I want it, but rather on a sense of peace, a peace that passes our human understanding, on the assurance in my spirit that God is there, that I am loved and cared for no matter what the circumstances, that my loved ones are, too.
Even if I were not a believing person, I know that joy is available to me…it can come from the decision to look at all things from the point of goodness, for in almost everything there is at least a thread of goodness. When I focus on the goodness, rather than what I don’t like/don’t want/don’t think is right, I usually feel better; and when I feel better, my entire being - my outlook, my responses and reactions, my physical body- has a chance to breathe.
If I were to take a slow deep breath, maybe several, I cannot help but feel calmer. When I am calm, I can think more clearly and I feel the effects of stress lessen…when I seek to find the goodness, the results are as if I have taken several deep breaths…then often what I notice is the joy. May many moments of every day be spent in joy!