“Life in all its Fullness”

“I’ve got joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart – WHERE?”

After having children, I began to experience overwhelming waves of gratitude — gratitude for my life, gratitude for my children, gratitude for my marriage, and then slowly, gratitude in general (sunshine, literature, music, etc.), became the constant prayer on my lips.

Through this constant reflection of what was life-affirming, I realized that “joy” was essentially the recognition of all the things I found wonderful.

Since this revelation, I try to intentionally regulate my attention to focus on joy, but it only happens when I make the space for it.

My husband finds this kind of space when he runs – the only time his mind is still. Although I “enjoy” exercise (usually!), solitude for me comes in moments of calm (before sleep or after waking). In those moments, I feel like I experience a sense of clarity, although brief. The hard part is holding on to what I discover in those fleeting moments.

Carrying our “fruit” with us throughout each day – spreading and sharing our joy – becomes the task for which we must become intentional.

This is where it becomes difficult (at least for me). To truly share fruit, we must keep our hearts open, available to give as well as receive. Keeping an open heart seems like a Herculian or (Jesus-like) task.

In the book of John, Jesus says, “. . . you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Essentially, Jesus is saying that the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) resides within each of us and through seeing the Jesus in all, we are united in the “democracy of souls,” as Ghandi would say.

Hindus, like Ghandi, believe we all possess an infinite center of “bliss” which can be found, once we remove the ego. Only at this point can we connect with the TRUTH, or God. So, through nonjudgmental interactions and relationships, we can experience awareness and blissful joy.

Likewise, in Buddhist philosophy, joy is one of the four immeasurables that humans are called to radiate outward to others – an unselfish joy defined as rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of others.

And interestingly, the only Jewish song I know – the Hava Nagila (Jewish wedding song) – is also about “recognizing” the joy within.

For all of us then, the task becomes regulating our attention toward our inner joy, so that we are empowered to share our fruit with others, in order to experience the completeness of whole living.