9A. that where there is sorrow, I may bring joy

“I just wanted to make you happy,” say so many characters, in the scene right after everything predictably fell apart, and right before a hug and clean-up montage. I’ve spent a lot of time watching my favorite comedians remind me that other people’s happiness is not in my job description.

Gordon T. Smith names joy as a consistent outcome of spiritual growth. God’s story is full of joyful moments, and joy where it doesn’t belong. Joy is not only a spontaneous response to a gift in the moment, but an incongruous smile on the face of a long-term, long-distance sweetheart.

We have a national obligation to happiness, an inalienable right that pursues us into every “how are you?” Sorrow is often confronted by cheer-threatening companions or mood altering chemicals. But sorrow is unimpressed; sorrow is trained for this. Sorrow can wait out such strategies.

Joy is not imposed or pretended. Joy rises, joy grows. When joy overtakes us, it’s because it was always there. I don’t “joy someone up.” Joy is God’s work.

Saying the peace prayer makes this clear: I have joy to bring if I am connected to the source. My work in this scene is to keep the channel open. Maybe a hug and a bit of clean-up, as well. 

Psalm 130

I’m writing short reflections on the Franciscan peace prayer through Lent. The series begins with 1A, right over here.

This week was harder, but I’m catching up! Joyful Lent!


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