The Door to Joy
The door to joy stands always open to usher through each weary soul
Whose feet have traversed the rocky path, sometimes stumbling
Wondering if they will ever arrive or be destined to travel endlessly
A beacon light catches the eye, reassuring that warmth and comfort
Nourishment for body, mind, and spirit
Wait within. ~ Edie Weinstein.
These words are salve for my discouraged heart (and maybe yours) now since we are living in a time like no other I have experienced in my 63-plus years on the planet.
Gun violence, political unrest, our rights being snatched out from under us, people continuing to peddle “The Big Lie,” environmental disasters, and the rise of a “Christofascist” minority that is determined to weaponize religion.
For four decades, I have been a social justice activist—speaking out about the ERA, LGBTQ+ rights, no nukes, wars, environmental viability, immigrant rights, women’s rights, and reproductive freedom, and frankly, I’m exhausted.
Each time the 24-hour news cycle broadcasts the latest planetary trauma, I’m right there. I write about, march about, protest about, stand vigil about, vote about, and pray about the events of the day. What I need is rest. What I need is an infusion of joy. Yesterday, I heard this interview on NPR called How to Find Joy in Activism. Karen Walrond delighted my ears when she said, “Any time you are led by your values to do purposeful action in the hopes of making the world brighter for other people, you’re participating in activism.” It may not be the things I mentioned above. It may be doing acts of kindness, visiting people in nursing homes, volunteering in animal shelters, paying for someone’s meal anonymously, or shoveling your neighbor’s driveway. It might be a letter writing campaign for veterans. It could be community cleanup. Walrond refers to them as “lightmaking.” Anyone can be a lightmaker. Age, socio-economic background, or physical ability are not factors. All it takes is willingness.
In times of darkness, we need more lightmakers. How do you shine your light?
When I think about the joys in my life, my family is at the top of the list. Today, I spent time with my son, daughter-in-law, two-and-a-half-year old grandson, and two-month old granddaughter. While Lucy slept, Dean enjoyed the bounty of the farmers’ market as we strolled around. He greeted people and dogs with his beguiling smile and wave. Our next stop was a fire house where he knew that the firetrucks hung out. A kind firefighter boosted him up into a truck where he pretended to drive. We then ventured to his favorite fenced-in playground where he ran around unrestricted. Climbing, sliding, swinging and gliding, laughing his joy to the heavens. I wish I could bottle that energy. My grandson is a lightmaker; he is radiant, and his laughter is contagious.
My joys also include writing, and the Muse speaks to me 24/7 as writing prompts are ever-present, immersing in nature, cloud gazing and star gazing, time with kindred spirits as we speak about “life, the Universe, and everything.” I find joy in singing and dancing. It finds me when doing my Free Hugs events as a Hugmobster Armed With Love.
While none of those activities prevent the pitfalls and perils of this human existence, they raise my spirits, fill my tank, help me push the reset button, give me hope, and help me to keep on keeping on. What lights you up from the inside and turns you into a human sparkler?
Watch “Where joy hides and how to find it.”