Joy

Last week I drove from my home to a nearby trailhead. It was nearing sunset, which now happens at about 5:20. On this day, I wasn’t looking for the hike along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Rather, I wanted to be still, seeing out over the valley. I wanted to see Utah Lake. I wanted to see mountains beyond lake. I wanted to feel the bigness of sky as part of my working day.

There is joy for me in remembering that moment last week. There is joy for me in feeling such expansiveness and such beauty.

I’ve been thinking lately about how many times I forget, and then remember again, that joy is a reliable guide and path for finding way in human life. Even the littlest of things, when welcomed through a commitment to joy, seem to invoke an extraordinary from an ordinary. A cup of coffee that warms and awakens. The feel of my sweater against my skin that tingles a memory of the person who gave it to me. The sun bringing light through my window that dances life. The sky colored and patched as it is that brings a bit of breathlessness.

Yes, in all of life’s complexities, I seem to forget, and then remember, that joy is a reliable guide. Or perhaps a relieving guide, expanding the way, for those of us that dwell with the best of intentions in fears and worries that can so contract the way.

I love my friend Sarah, now 79 years old, who’s eyes have particular clarity when she proclaims “joy as radical act.” It is fierce commitment that I feel from her, a stand against so much that deceives in media streams of blame and shame, thundering with their noise.

I love my friend Toke, now in his 70s, who smiles from the inside out when he speaks of “gathering the warriors of joy.” Like it is for Sarah, Toke has grown the muscular and emotional memory that is what happens with years of practice to a very simple thing.

Yes, I’ve been thinking lately about how many times I forget, and then remember again, that joy is a reliable guide. Not so as to prevent the difficult dives of descent that mature us individually or collectively, but rather to throw us a life line when it is time to come up again to see and celebrate the openness of sky.

Here’s to the joy that guides us, any of us, even if just for a moment at 5:20, out over the valley.

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