I’ve done some thinking about the relationship of sorrow to joy and I’ve concluded that what happened to me and my sister (referring to an early post on Joy) offers some insight into how we might prepare to receive Joy.
It seems to me that the first step must be Gratitude. A recent study published in the Seattle Times describes a scientific method for being happier, and it doesn’t involve drugs. It suggests that unhappy people can become happier if they begin a discipline of gratitude, if they think every day of at least three good things that have happened to them during the day.
Feeling grateful to someone who has been kind, feeling thankful for the benefits of everyday life, saying thank you to the universe for its beauty ---gratitude is a gift we can give no matter what our circumstances.
Remember how good it feels when someone writes you a thankyou note for something you have done for them? It makes me feel great and it makes me feel grateful in return for that person’s thoughtfulness. I believe that when we give the gift of gratitude, we prepare to be surprised by Joy.
Another step in setting the stage for Joy, I think, is recognizing the connectedness we have to one another. I call this Hope, the sure knowledge that we are part of the inexhaustible stream of life, that we belong in this universe, that we are part of Creation, part of life. And when we give Hope to ourselves and to others, I believe we prepare to be surprised by Joy.
The third stage, perhaps, is Love, reaching out in kindness and support to our companions on the road, whether we agree with them theologically or politically, whether we think they’re nice people, whether we approve or disapprove, whether we receive from them what we would like to receive. Giving Love without limits is yet another way, I believe, to prepare to be surprised by Joy.
So we prepare for Joy by expressing Gratitude, by finding Hope in our connection to others, and by giving Love wherever we can. Kind of another Trinity, maybe, one that gives legs to our sense of relationship with the Divine and our human need to do something to make that relationship real.