He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
A wise soul once said to me, “There are no lifetimes of happiness, only moments,” and as I get older, I realize that these moments are like pearls strung on the thread of life. In the chaos of our modern age, the jewels of our days are too often lost in the whirlwind of shoulds, have-tos, and must-haves, their glimmering transience rarely catching our eye before falling into the mud.
Children, squirrels, and cats have all taught me a lot from simple observation and the most profound is that joy is possible even in the most dire of circumstances, even after the most devastating storm, and most of all, when we are in the quicksand of everyday monotony.
The other day I took an overdue break from tedious desk work and walked with a dear friend near the river that runs through our town. At the mouth of the trail, in the wild tangle of overlooked wayside wonders was a purple cloud of irises drenched with diamonds from the recent rains. Right next to it was an unexplained mowed-down-to-nothing patch, right where wild columbines had been blooming in amethyst clusters just a few days earlier. My heart sank that the columbines had not been spared. But then the moment offered me another joy, that luscious cluster of wild irises donned with jewels. It summed up this past year in my life–so many changes, transitions, and speed bumps of loss, but there have been new joys tucked behind unexpected corners. Sometimes I have to crouch into uncomfortable perspectives and mental shifts to see them just as we sometimes need to bend down beneath a fence to inhale the breath of the one and only rose. It is always worth the effort.
Joy comes to us in pieces, in unexpected showers, in a single drop of rapture, and if we are too distracted by a daily list of wrongs, we can blink and miss something glorious.
Happiness is a mood, but joy is a frequency, and the more we are willing to align with this frequency, the more our souls expand into possibility and our lives–no matter how challenged–become feasts. The beautiful thing about a feast is our moment-to-moment choice to reach out and grab a morsel of sustenance; our human free will gives us the opportunity to choose and to create as we go along. Destiny is what our souls journey toward, but in between this paradigm is an endless expanse that is clay waiting to be molded by our creativity.
Being in human form is unspeakably difficult; this plane of existence is not for the faint-hearted. Every second, our bodies are hostage to gravity; every moment our hearts press up against sharp edges of pain; every day our spirits struggle like candles in storm-wind. No matter what our lot or our current circumstances, most of us feel a deficit in the pit of our bellies, an acknowledgment that the scales are not balanced someway, somehow. Gratitude is a necessary lifeline that we can grab onto–but sometimes that lifeline is buried beneath survival and is difficult to find.
For me, beauty has been my greatest wealth and my true North. It enables me to hold fast to gratitude, even when I am in a tumultuous sea. Beauty, like moments of happiness, can be fleeting–and the great poet William Blake reminds us to catch the joy as it flies–and only then, can we walk in eternal sunrise. But beauty is a tricky thing–she only appears to those with eyes to see her; she knows the dance of futility of trying to get out attention when we are putting her last. She wants us to court her, greet each day in anticipation of encountering her, and prepare ourselves as if we are meeting a lover. She wants us as much as we want her, but taking her for granted only makes her throw a blindfold over our vision.
The more we tune into beauty, the more we can resonate with joy as a frequency. Mystics through the ages have known that God/dess Consciousness is a state of bliss, of incalculable rapture. I remember my mother telling me about a yogi she had once met– a small, old man with a toothless smile whose joy ignited the room. He laughed loudly and jumped up and down when something delighted him. His example comes to mind when I think about being in a state of grace, of beauty, of joy. In our everyday lives, it is easy to set our minds to the idea that we should get something for our hard work of surviving, but in our Joy Minds, it is easy to see how wealthy we truly are.
This week, despite what feels like an overwhelming workload, I am choosing to sift my days like a gold prospector–to sift through the silt to find shining nuggets, even the tiniest flecks. I am choosing to gather jewels from the irises after the rain, the green pearls of fruit on the crabapple trees outside my studio window; I plan on drinking from my lover’s kiss and finding the ruby beneath his tongue; I vow to taste the deep elixir of doubt’s dark moon and keep an eye out for the dawn dancing in gossamer. I invite you to do the same, to open your hands and fill your palms with pieces of joy, to reach your arms into the storm and touch joy as she flies…
(Be sure to take a listen to Pieces of Joy!)
Marlaina Donato is a freelance staff writer for the magazine Natural Awakenings and the author of several books including Goddess Consciousness. Peruse her visionary paintings or music at her website: www.MarlainaDonato.com