My daughter Kelley visited last weekend, and if you want to see the definition of joy just tell one of Caroline’s kids that their “Aunt Silly” is coming and watch them light up. I know Kelley’s other nieces and nephews feel the same way, just as my children feel about their Aunt Terry. We should all have a special Aunt or Uncle in our lives that makes our hearts leap for joy when his/her name is mentioned.
Sometimes we take life way too seriously. Catherine of Siena said “the way to heaven is heaven.” That way is paved with joy and music. While Kelley was here, we went up to the mountains. Kelley was in the front seat as Suzy drove, and she insisted on controlling the radio going back and forth between the oldies of the 60’s and 70’s on satellite radio. For Suzy and Kelley this curvy mountain trip reminded them of the times when they would come visit me while I was in prison — 3 hours away from DC in the West Virginia mountains. That path wasn’t easy for either of them — the coming or the going away after the visit. Yet, they remember to this day the music they listened to and sang along with, the pie shops and fruit stands they would stop at, and the magnificence of Cumberland Gap. They found joy as they endured the many months of visits and separation from me.
I don’t think their singing oldies, reading roadside markers, and gathering fresh vegetables and fruit was a conscious act of escape from their pain. It was just part of their nature to sing and be joyful no matter how difficult the circumstances. They made their journey to my Hell and back — heaven. I also wouldn’t be surprised if those trips didn’t give Kelley the strength she has and needs to help the young children she sees daily in the most difficult circumstances.
When we meditate this week consider what brings you joy and seek it out — not only during the good times but during the tough times. Remember now matter what you are going through, “Joy always comes in the morning.”