Joy

In his book The Genesee Diary, Henri Nouwen writes “Real joy always wants to share. It belongs to the nature of joy to communicate itself to others and to invite others to take part in the gifts we have received.” My mom embodies this statement so well when she cooks up her fabulous Korean dish with the little harvest she received from her garden in the back yard. Nothing gives her more joy these days than to share her fresh food she and my dad planted together all spring long. We had a few visitors today. My mom’s joy was sharing her food with her guests. My joy was to watch my mom enjoying her fellowship with her friends.

My house is much too quiet on normal days. I do not need to flee to a silent retreat deep in the mountainside monastery. On most days, I am on a silent retreat, except that I have a chatterbox toddler living in my personal monastery. I think monasteries enjoy more traffic than I do here at this house. As I was typing this part, I lifted my eyes from my monitor to witness this. 

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It looks like my neighbors across the street decided to share the joy of their cows with me. Their cows are notorious to escape their pen to explore the neighborhood. They run along the country street looking for nice grassy field. Today, they decided to come over to our house for some fresh, long, dewy grass. From the eyes of those cows, our pasture must have looked appealing because we have not mowed in two weeks and the grass has grown very long. The cows’ joy was obvious as I witnessed them running and hopping on my backyard. I’ve never seen cows jumping so high. My first thought was that they must have mad cow disease until Alice, my next-door neighbor, corrected me that they were just being happy to see some greenery. I have noticed my neighbors keep their cows in a muddy pen. It is so small and wet all the time that even someone like me without the cattle background was sure it was illegal to raise cows under such poor condition. Today, the cows’ joy was to run in the grassy field wild and free. And my joy was to watch those cows enjoying their freedom and plenty of food.

Joy is not the good feelings we get when life goes our way. Rather it is a result of a wondrous inner working that expresses peace and completeness. Joy happens naturally when we flow in the stream of God’s grace. It’s the deep inner peace that knows the finitude of this earthly life. It’s the heaven-filled eye that knows the true meaning of this human life and the end of it. It’s the evident victory that knows the war has already been conquered and that you are here to witness, to serve, to love, and to sing praises of the loving creator, Our God.

It’s the heart that can say:

One more day to serve.

One more hour to love.

One more minute to praise.

For this day I am grateful.

-Mary Lou Kownacki

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