Driving home from celebrating the Eucharist at a Denver day shelter, yesterday morning, I felt a profound sense of joy. I had just spent an hour doing what I have been created to do, it was a perfect start to my Sunday, so I sang loudly with Lady Gaga as I powered back up the mountain to spend the rest of the day with my lovely husband, building my new desk. I had a profound sense of “rightness” and I was going to wallow in it. It has taken me a long time to trust these fleeting moments of sheer joy as glimpses of God’s Kingdom, but when I do recognize them, I try to savor them.
I used to mistake brooding and cynicism for depth. I am not sure why, but there was always something appealing about a dark horse, someone who was comfortable on the darker side. I have always been more sunny, more positive, and have tried desperately not to be a “Pollyanna”. I feared being naive and simple and fluffy. After all, experience taught me that life was hard, and that people, especially teenage girls could be mean.
My discomfort with the Pollyanna side of life might also have something to do with the fact that I came of age in the 80’s when cynicism in the form of punk and goth became cultural counterpoints to the glittering consumerism of this conspicuous decade.I was never goth or punk and my few attempts to be a bad girl went largely unnoticed, the large neon sign over my head that blinked “NICE GIRL” was too bright for people to notice my four earrings or lopsided haircut.
I do have a temper, and I can be unpleasant too early in the morning before I have had time to wake up, or when I feel thwarted by foolishness or injured by injustice, but by nature, I am usually energetic, optimistic and sometimes extremely bubbly. I have come to learn that despite the moments when I feel a lot like Tigger bouncing uncontrollably around an unsuspecting Eeyore or Pooh, that hope and enthusiasm are quite audacious, sometimes bordering on scandalous, gifts, and that i should embrace them.
I am learning that joy is just as subversive, if not more so than cynicism, and being subversive appeals to me. Hope in the midst of great grief and tragedy means choosing to see that God is at work in the world. Joy is not the fleeting happiness we feel when eating chocolate or getting a new gadget, but a deeper resonance in the gut that doesn’t go away, even if it’s hard to see sometimes. Joy is recognizing and being recognized by another human being. Joy means living as if my own personal grief does not mean I can’t rejoice when someone else has a reason to celebrate, and my own celebration does not mean that I can’t feel pain or grief with someone else.
There is plenty of pain and grief in the world, and undoubtably plenty more trials and frustrations ahead, so I plan to wallow in joy every chance I get.