We Are Not Alone: Reflections on Joy and Peace

In the January issue we discussed how we can bring light to others in our life. Or, as Rev. Paul reminded us in a recent sermon, how we can be conduits of living water. In this month’s We Are Not Alone the focus is on how we can find joy and peace in our own lives. Not to mention the gifts of love, wonder, and hope.

The Greek word for joy is ‘chara.’ This describes a feeling of inner gladness, delight or rejoicing. This inner gladness leads to a cheerful heart, and a cheerful heart leads to cheerful behaviour. Which, we are allowed to surmise, can lead to a purposeful and zestful life.

Reflections on Joy and Peace

by Patti Thompson

Today my one-year-old grandson took his first few steps. My heart overflowed with love and joy as I videotaped the moment. But my joy could not rival the smile that emanated from him. It was a look of someone ready to explore the world and confident of the wonders that he expected to find.  Boundlessly curious, he delights in discovery. All is new and miraculous to his young eyes. In a time when we are bombarded with messages of fear, there is much that a one-year-old can teach us about practising joy.

“A healthy perspective is the key to joy and happiness. The way we see the world is the way we experience the world.”- The Book of Joy

Against the grey winter landscape, I see the bright red flash of the cardinal outside my kitchen window this morning. Its beautiful sound invites me to be transported to a world where hope lives; where a burst of colour can remind one of rainbows after a spring rain or an orange sunset after a hot summer day. I watch the cardinal sitting alone in the bare branches of the tree. Its song says “it’s time to change perspective and see all the places where joy lives.“ So I glance out of the window and allow the cardinal’s beauty to transform my inner climate from turmoil to tranquillity… letting beauty perform its miracle on my psyche.

“Wellbeing is a skill that can be learned. It requires strong disciplines of prayer and quiet time. Create your own inner peacefulness and joy and then spread it to others.”

Dalai Lama, Book of Joy

Today I felt restless. Calm escaped me. My head was filled with images of people camping out in Ottawa. My heart was anxious with the worry of a strained relationship. Where was inner peace? Netflix and Olympic coverage only distracted me and left me more unsettled. I’ve been down this road before. Lots of flashing lights and stimulation but nothing that soothes the soul.  I know what brings me inner peace. Now is the time to remember and follow through. Writing in my journal. Doing my gratitude practice. Sitting in silence. Here is where I reconnect to the quiet centre, the part of me that waits patiently to whisper its messages. “Peace be with you” it says and I respond in kind.

We are wired to be compassionate and caring for each other. Too much self-centred thinking is the source of suffering.  Joy is the reward of seeking to give joy to others.”- Desmond Tutu, Film Mission:Joy

The other day, I received a surprise gift from a friend. It was a beautiful journal filled with inspirational quotes where I can record my thoughts, my dreams, and daily gratitude. For me, there is nothing better than unexpected generosity… when someone calls to see how you’re doing; when a neighbour drops by with fresh baking; when someone shares a confidence with you. Acts of kindness bring a flash of light into my life. It inspires me to share my light with others. So with that in mind, I ordered two more copies of the journal and gave them to friends. As Desmond Tutu says, it is about practising what many Africans refer to as Ubuntu: “I am because you are.”

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