Strange as it may sound, we choose joy. Two people can be part of the same event, but one may choose to live it quite differently from the other. One may choose to trust that what happened, painful as it may be, holds a promise. The other may choose despair and be destroyed by it. What makes us human is precisely this freedom of choice.True joy is hidden where we are the same as other people: fragile and mortal. It is the joy of belonging to the human race. It is the joy of being with others as a friend, a companion, a fellow traveler. This is the joy of Jesus, who is Emmanuel: God-with-us.Once we are joyful, emulating God-with-us, and celebrating our community with other adventurers in joy, then we can turn to loving others as ourselves.
Henri Nouwen's observation on the power of speech is incredibly important now in a season of division and strife in so many quarters:
"Still, the word has the power to create. When God speaks, God creates. When God says, 'Let there be light' (Genesis 1:3), light is. God speaks light. For God, speaking and creating are the same. It is this creative power of the word we need to reclaim. What we say is very important. When we say, 'I love you', and say it from the heart, we can give another person new life, new hope, new courage. When we say, 'I hate you', we can destroy another person. Let's watch our words." And, "Words of love and affirmation are like bread. We need them each day, over and over. They keep us alive inside."Some would say an individual can't make a difference. I would strongly disagree. Choose joy and speak with love to others today and see if you don't make an immediate difference in someone else's day. Once you plant that seed of joy and love in that other person, who knows where they will go and how those seeds will grow. Keep seeding and moving along, never looking back, never wondering if you've made a difference, but trusting that God will make those seeds grow and the joy and love spread right along. It seems a good antidote to the anger and division, the strife and the hatred being shrieked today in so many quarters and so many destructive ways. I'm choosing to be joyful and the spread love. In doing so, I follow the two greatest commandments, as noted by Jesus, love God and your neighbor as yourself. You are loved neighbor. Do you choose to feel the joy?