The Challenge of Joy

Over the Breckenridge, CO Nordic Ski Center hangs a sign: “Oh, be Joyful!” That’s hard to do, when we can’t quite trust that any grown-ups are running the government or the church. And yet: as St. Bonaventure says, “God is a fountain fullness.” Picture that: burbling over, spilling plentifully, and as I saw recently, the place where a hummingbird, shimmering, translucent, pale green, could dip for a sip or a shower. God never stops spoiling us, pulsing with life within.

When much of the country suffers heat, drought and fire, it’s lovely to think of Jesus’ promise to the Samaritan woman: that he would be gush of living water from which we can all drink deep. Or as Richard Rohr says, “Your deepest you is God, is good, is okay. The True Self cannot be hurt; it’s invulnerable, it’s indestructible.” Knowing that, it seems downright ungrateful to repress our joy.

Jack Kornfield, author of  After the Ecstasy, the Laundry spoke recently about how protests should be joyous and artful. When he demonstrated at the San Francisco airport against the ban on travel from majority Muslim countries, a jazz band accompanied the welcoming words called to refugees. The last thing they need is depression and hopelessness. Instead, trumpets, drums, Ka-zam and bling! Kornfield also quoted Gary Snyder, asked about environmental damage, who responded, “Don’t feel guilty. Save it out of love.” Or Molly Ivins, who said, “Fight for justice but have fun doing it.” It is, after all, a beautiful blue-green planet filled with deep lakes, soaring mountains, the tinsel arc of rivers, the rainbows on trout. How unappreciative to become grim in its defense!

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