Have you seen the video (gone viral) of the gorilla having fun in the kiddie pool? The sheer joy of this animal splashing and seemingly dancing away (as the video is now set to a rock music background) is way more than cute. It gives us a rare moment of watching an experience of sheer joy.
These days, animals seem to experience joy more than we do. (I have watched Abby race up and down stairs in a maniacal fashion with what appears to be a smile or her sneaking up on a bunny knowing that she will only get so far and then let the chase begin!) We exist in a culture that is demanding, stress inducing and time robbing. Trying to schedule meetings in this parish is exhausting because we’re all limited in terms of time. “Free time” has passed away into “the dustbin of history,” and so many of us desperately try to balance demands of work, home, spouse and children in our roles as married, parent, chauffeur, cook, master scheduler, volunteer and employee. When do we get to experience some “joy?”
I am aware that many folks enjoy this blog more when its message is soft and uplifting. But as a pastor and spiritual guide, sometimes I have to lay out the unpleasant truths folks do not wish to hear. Part of one’s living into our priestly vows – promises I renewed the other day as I celebrated the 42nd anniversary of my ordination.
I pose not a judgment but a question: how much joy is there in your life? And if you are not or have not experienced an inner sense of peace and happiness with who you are as a child of God, as redeemed in Christ, and what you do in all the various activities created by the various roles you must play given your employment, lifestyle, residence, etc., then I have to ask: what exactly is the point of having when you’ve lost the sense of being?
One can keep racing about listening to the noise and getting all our stuff done (or not) and be miserable in doing it. But why would I do this? We really have so little time here to do what God has asked us to do. (Wait until you have the chance to review your first 60 years that have just sped by!) Why waste that time being angry and stressed. Or as Jesus so bluntly put it so many centuries ago: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process?” When were you last relaxed and happy, and if you can’t remember, then what do you intend to do about that?
– Fr. Joe