Loving the San Francisco Bay Area... Community development, urban ministry, trying to defeat poverty, faith, religion, politics, good music, the quest for the perfect pizza, the Yankees, motorcycles... All in a 'day's life'

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cultivating Joy

I've been reading the book, "The Lessons of St. Francis" by musician John Michael Talbot. This morning I read the chapter on joy. It struck me that with the pace and intensity of my life I sometimes lack joy and the sense of the present moment. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, I tend to focus on what is next and how to get there. This can be a very joy robbing life when I let it out of control. This attitude can be particularly hard on my wife and son.

Today, being the 6th anniversary of 9/11 it seems especially poignant to reflect on how to maintain joy in an ever changing and difficult world.

To summarize the chapter Talbot reflects on how to cultivate joy in our lives:

* Don't Worry About Tomorrow - ...in small and big ways, (St.) Francis sought not to be distracted from the responsibilities of today by worrries about tomorrow.

The Jesuit writer Jen Pierre DeCoussaid describes this kind of attention to the here and now as 'the sacrament of the present moment.' This dosen't mean one can't have plans or hopes for tomorrow. But it does mean that too many of us are too preoccuied abotu the future - or too consumed by the past - to concentrate on the beauty and the promise of the current.

Embrace the immediate moment...

* Be Thankful - What's your first waking thought in the morning? Is it a teeth clenching curse abotu how cold you are, how tired you are, or how anxious you are abotu the responsibilitie of the coming day> Instead of moaning and groaning, try beginning each day with a prayer of thanks to Go for another day of life.

* Be Forgiving - Many people walk around in a black cloud of their own creation. Part of the cloud consists of regrets over personal failures or unfaithfulness to others. The good news is that God can forgive us for these failings, and give us a clean conscience for starting anew. But another part of the cloud consists of the emotional bandage we bring on ourselves when we fail to forgive others.

Learn to forgive, thus freeing yourself from the illusions of both control and victimization.

Begin (cultivating joy) by saying this simple prayer: "God, my efforts to make myself happy have yielded much unhappiness. My anxiety about my tomorrows steals the pleasure from my todays. And my anger toward my neighbor strangles my heart. Please release me from my preoccupation with myself and my troubles, and begin filling me with your indescribable joy. Amen.

Seemingly simple words. Today I'm purposing to cultivate a spirit of joy and thanksgiving...

Q. How do you cultivate joy in your life? What habits and practices do you do to keep your joy flowing?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:44 AM

    Great thoughts John!

    I read that book about 2 months ago and it really helped me refocus in a time of transition.

    Take care!
    Tommy T