Instructing Ourselves in Joy

Joy is something that sees quite elusive these days. Outrage, indignation and anger are readily available, but joy seems in short supply. These words of poet Mary Oliver are resonating with me today, particularly her thought that what she was born for was to instruct herself over and over in joy and acclamation.

Mindful
by Mary Oliver

Every Day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It is what I was born for—
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world—
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant—
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these—
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean’s shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

The main sentiment of the poem is not far at all from the Westminster Shorter catechism that tells us that our chief purpose as humans is to love God and enjoy God forever. Our scriptures are full of calls to be joyful: 

Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart. (Psalm 32:11)

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. (Psalm 33:1)

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. (Psalm 100:1–2)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

No matter what is happening in our lives and in our world, we are always to be looking for the joy that exists. How are you instructing yourself in being joyful today?

 

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