The Secrets of Joy
There are so many expectations of how the holidays should be, with perfect family gatherings and perfect gifts. The problem is, there is no perfection in real life….at least of the kind that society seems to foist on us. I let go of all those expectations this year, allowing myself be open to new traditions, new ways of celebrating. I focused on finding the joy in the quiet moments, in the time spent with my husband. It has been a time of spiritual and emotional rejuvenation, teaching me some of the secrets of what joy means to me.
We spent Christmas Day at home, just the two of us. Instead of the big traditional dinner for several people that we usually stress over, we spent a lot of the day in jammies, reading, talking, watching movies. We took the dogs for a nice walk up on the Vulcan Trail overlooking the city in the afternoon, and then made a simple dinner for two, eating by candlelight and Christmas lights. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. I shed some tears, as it was my first of fifty Christmases not spent with my mother, but they were healing tears, tears of gratitude for so many happy memories, so much love. I started making a mental gratitude list of the many blessings in my life, which outweighed the sadness over and over again.
I guess it boils down to how we choose to look at life, either focusing on the gloom and doom, or finding the beauty- even in times of sadness and challenge. I’ve had a good deal of challenge this year, but you know what? In every single instance I can see good things, beautiful things, that have come about because of what I went through. It is all simply life. It’s not good or bad, it just is. I have such a long way to go in my spiritual journey- I don’t always see the gifts right away, but I am at least getting better about being patient, knowing they will come. The gifts I’m talking about don’t need ribbons or bows- they are, instead, wrapped in heart strings.
From loss I received the gifts of gratitude and empathy. From health issues I have gained a new appreciation for my body and what I can do to take better care of it. From disappointments I was given the gifts of resilience and hope. From the unconditional love of my husband I have been given the gifts of trust and compassion- and these are just a few. So many priceless treasures. If I had only focused on the difficulties, I would have missed out on so much. I have seen many people do that, becoming embittered and inflexible, because they refuse to look past the challenge for the lessons that are sure to follow, each blossoming into wave after wave of spiritual gifts. So many wasted opportunities to appreciate the beauty of life, to be open to joy.
As the new year approaches, I look forward with hope. I look forward to a year filled with love, with opportunities, and yes, with challenge. It’s all a part of living a full life. And along the way, I will be open to joy, letting it flow through me like a river, doing my best to share it with each person I meet. Joy shared only grows by leaps and bounds. I love the idea of a world overtaken by joy…just imagine.