Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Is it true that joy cannot come without pain? I think it may be. I had wondered lately what is joy? I can honestly say that I did not know. Maybe that's kind of sad – I suppose because not knowing equates to never having had the experience of joy but it's the truth and I would be willing to bet that it's the truth for most people. I think in general we expect that joy is some state of intense happiness but this I believe is false.

God speaks to me. I know this and yet I struggle to find the words to explain. And He speaks to me a lot. I know this because I now know things that have originated from deep within myself and therefore cannot possibly have come from anywhere else but from Him. We have established a connection He and I and through this connection I am coming to learn the true meaning of intimacy and I am quite by accident coming to learn the true meaning of joy. It is not happiness or rather while there may be moments of good feelings in the emerging recognition of joy it is not by any means pure happiness as we define happy. Far from it, I would hesitantly say that joy involves more pain and frustration and desire... most certainly desire.

Longfellow writes of it in his poem My Lost Youth describing his experience as he revisits his boyhood home. We all know this, it's a longing, a desire for what once was, for something deep within ourselves that we cannot grasp:

And Deering's Woods are fresh and fair,
And with joy that is almost pain
My heart goes back to wander there,
And among the dreams of the days that were,
I find my lost youth again.
And the strange and beautiful song,
The groves are repeating it still:
"A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."

And there is mystery involved in joy, how could it be otherwise when speaking of the Divine? A frustrating sort of mystery to be sure but also a welcome mystery. In my search for God, in my continual questioning of Him I have come to realize that I am loath to give up the mystery that would result by finding all the answers to all my questions. A real catch-22. I have questions, I want answers but I don't want to lose the mystery that is inherent to life, not that I really think there's any chance of that. Because one of the basic mysteries of life is that there is more to know than can ever possibly be known by any human being due to the finite state of our humanity.

My question today is whether or not joy can come without pain and I think not, a paradox of life that the two are woven together and cannot be separate when joy is the leading aspect. And I think that joy is deep desire and discovery shrouded in mystery and darkness and that it comes only in relation to, in response from, only through contact with God. It comes in the recognition of our connectedness to God. Fleeting moments of connection with Him in the deepest part of our soul. The Joy is experienced in the small, fragile glimpses of recognition of Him and the pain comes with our inability to grasp Him fully.

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