We could explore the commonality that joy or happiness is a state of being achieved by the most awakened or enlightened souls. “If you do life right, you’ll be happy,” is its battle cry.
Or, we could explore the commonality that joy or happiness is like gratitude. It’s a reactive, human emotion that happens to us when life happily reads the scripts we’ve written for life to read. “If life does you right, you’ll be happy,” is its battle cry.
See if you can relate to this. It’s well-accepted that there is something of a compelling power that’s aroused, even something of a creative energy that’s awakened when people come together. And I think something of a deep knowing of this within the human creature continues to draw us together age after age after age.
And while it’s well-accepted that we would come together in the context of spiritual community to pray and to chant and to study, it’s sadly less-accepted that we would come together in the context of spiritual community to dance, to cry and to laugh.
In other words, there is something of a compelling power that’s aroused, even something of a creative energy that’s awakened when people come together and while there are a number of well-accepted forms for this coming together to assume in the context of spiritual community, our houses of worship are all-too-often sadly devoid of the form I might call joy.
It’s as if we symbolically shout our refrains of piety and solemnity even as we warily whisper our lyrics of comfort and joy. We delight in a God of silence, song and scripture even as we reject a God of hilarity.
So, standing next to hope, peace and love, joy becomes something of an awkward third cousin, with all that hair or all those tattoos or all those piercings: They’re welcome at the holiday table, I suppose, because we know we’re supposed to welcome them, but we don’t really get them and we secretly wish they could still be assigned to the children’s table.
And yet, I’m willing to suggest that a coming together of those who laugh is no less a vehicle for power and creation than a coming together of those who pray. For in the same way that communal prayer, communal chant and communal study lifts us beyond the limitations of our words, laughter is yet another language used by the very soul itself, fostering connection and community and compassion among people, even when they don’t understand each other.
Yes, I’m willing to suggest that if the warring peoples of earth could but start every negotiation with a few good riddles and a general time of hilarity, the entire planet would be a better place for it. Try it in your next administrative meeting.
It’s a wisdom found in Proverbs that so deeply resonates with me, and I quote, “A joyful heart is good medicine; it’s a crushed spirit that dries up the bones."
A joyful heart is good medicine.
Amidst the seriousness of life, let us cultivate and embrace moments of brevity, moments of delight, moments of wonder. Let us laugh together. Let us smile upon each other. Let us give rise to that something of a compelling power, that something of a creative energy by allowing a God of hilarity to enter our evolving understanding.
So, when Rabbi Ted Falcon submitted his questions to me, he was being facetious, and yet I responded pretty quickly by saying, “Oh, these questions are actually pretty perfect! Don’t change a thing!”
His first question, and I quote, “What’s the difference between joy?”
His second, “What color is joy in the Unity tradition,” and finally, “How much joy can ride on the head of a pin?”
And I responded by saying, “these questions are actually pretty perfect,” because what I really want to suggest is that in truth, all differences fade in joy; in Unity, all colors are included in joy; and in life, even the smallest moments are enriched by joy.