There is joy in my heart these days – a quiet exuberance that makes me say retarded things to myself when no one is around, or marvel at the simplest of moments, or be thankful for the most unexpected events. Or maybe it’s the other way around. It is because I am more free, more childlike and more grateful, that I have joy. It matters not. The point is, I am joyful.
At MAGiS, we went for a lecture titled ‘The Joys of Living’, delivered by a French Jesuit. It was the most profound input that I got out of those 3 weeks. In short:
There are the Places of Sustained Sadness:
3). Fantasies of Flight
And in turn, they are met by their respective counterparts as Conditions of Profound Joy:
3). Quality of Presence
Even till now, this teaching on joy constantly resonates in my thoughts. I don’t know enough about these concepts to elaborate much further, suffice to say that this input was the summit about my ideas on joy for some time now. It triggered (or accelerated) the journey from head to heart.
Honestly, I’m afraid to declare it – that I’m joyful. I’m afraid that it’s just an artificial construct that my head made up to trick my heart, after critical reflection on a doctrine of joy. I’m afraid that if I admit to myself that I’m joyful, my inevitable introspective investigation into the authenticity of my emotions will erode all spontaneity – that quality which is so crucial for being joyful. I’m afraid, most of all, of discovering that this is only an ephemeral phase, rather than a sign that Christ is coming alive within me.
To admit that I am joyful would mean that I’m putting my faith to the test. Because if and when I fall out of this state into a place of sustained sadness, it would mean that my house was never really built on rock to begin with. Which is why to admit that I’m joyful is to set myself up for the realization that my relationship with Jesus is not as firm as I think it is. Daylight foreshadows dusk – it is to prepare myself for a dark night of the soul.
But I think I dare to put my heart on the line, and confess with integrated wholeness – the joy is real. Because not to admit it would be to deny it; it would be to bury my dinar in the ground. Because if I don’t, if I live in fear, then I’d just be losing exactly what I’m trying to guard – my relationships, my freedom, my presence – my joy. And because, most of all, I felt the unmistakeable joy flow through me in front of the Blessed Sacrament last night.
And if the dark night comes, then let it come. Let it lead me deeper into the obscurity of holy darkness, of blessed night. For yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, no evil will I fear. For the Lord is with me; His rod and His staff, they comfort me.