Our theme for exploration this month is “Opening to Joy.” December is the month where we are most likely to feel pressure to be cheerful, to smile for the camera, go to parties, decorate, give gifts… but we can go through those motions without experiencing any joy at all. If we are depressed, grieving, stressed by work or relationships or finances, we can easily feel out of sync with the world we think everyone else is living in – full of sugar plums and good will. How might we open to joy, a deeper joy that can quietly sit next to sorrow without making us feel worse?
I encourage you to pay attention to the ordinary things that make you smile inwardly. It might be the warmth of a radiator in a chilly room, the smell of wood smoke in the evening air, the texture of clouds in a wintry gray sky, the voice of a dear friend, the taste of your morning oatmeal… When we take the moment to notice the gifts that come free with being alive, to savor them and be grateful, we are opening ourselves to joy without demanding that we set aside the aches and pain that also come with having a human life.
I have pretty much stopped sending holiday cards, I do very little purchasing of gifts, and I feel more joy each year as we gather in community to light candles, to sing, and to wonder at how one life can make a difference. May you find ways to open yourself to joy this month, and to talk with others about their joy and yours.