Today I had lunch with a friend I had not seen since we graduated from seminary almost twenty-five years ago. It was a lovely time and it did my heart good to reconnect and fill in two and a half blank decades.
She arrived at our house after I learned of the suicide of someone I knew (not well), worked with from time to time, and enjoyed. My friend has been a chaplain to children in hospice, so she knows her way around grief and shock. Over lunch I said to her something along the lines that sometimes the sadness is too much. She looked at me with empathy and knowing and agreed, yes. Sometimes the sadness is too much.
But I have decided I will not let sadness win, or at least I will not let sadness be the only player in the game. I will not pretend that things aren’t awful, like cancer or suicide or addiction or the threat of nuclear war, but I won’t let those things have the only word.
I’m looking for joy everywhere go, and now and then I see it. It’s usually pretty small, almost undetectable, so I have to look hard.
Right now I’m finding joy in this playlist I made to provide music for Thanksgiving cooking. It includes some big ol’ hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with full orchestra, because I am a hymn nerd. It also includes anthems our church choir sang for All Saints Day (No Time, Unclouded Day), songs sung at a recent wedding, a blessing in Maori, and bad pop music because if there’s something I love, it’s a one-hit wonder. (Thanks, Donna Lewis and Walk the Moon!)
I find joy in my daughter and husband and our terrier mix. I find joy in making art. I find joy in seeing the huge amount of food donations brought to church, and joy in all those advocating for the poor, for things like living wages and health care for all and truly affordable housing.
It’s like there is a glass, and it has water in it, and some day it may be that all the water will be gone. But it may be that some day someone will refill the glass. But for now, there is water to drink.
For now, joy is still competing with sadness and almost winning.