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Posts Tagged ‘joyful living’
When Joy returns from a long journey,
she is carrying a basket of wildflowers;
bread; grape jelly; a book of poems.
“I go sometimes,” she says,
“when I feel we have stopped conversing-
when your love and appreciation wane
and I become another forgotten thing.
I go and I have a good wander.
And then I come back.
You know I always will -
when you light the porch lantern;
offer a quiet prayer;
when you enter your own heart again
and find the field where I go for dancing.”
I hung out a sign which read, “Tending Joy”…
Perhaps this has happened to you: when my daughters were very young, I found myself in a game of tug-of-war between all that I loved and longed to do. If I was with the children, I found myself feeling as if I was neglecting my business… while working, I wondered constantly about the children. Cleaning the house, I felt I should be working, and while in the studio I seemed to be allowing the dust to gather and clump at home. I felt as if I stood to fail someone or something no matter where I was.
I could have hung out a sign with the Chinese proverb, “There is chaos under the heavens: the situation is excellent,” and this would have been true. Instead, I hung out a sign over my book arts, gifts and poetry business, which simply said, “Tending Joy.” I wanted this to be the umbrella under which every piece of my life existed- rather than the push-me, pull-you juggling act that it felt it had become. I wanted to lean into the essence of joy at the heart of childhood, marriage, business, home, my life, spirit, and the world.
By hanging out a sign that said, “Tending Joy,” I was hoping to invoke a kind of grace that would hold all things. Joy, for me, was a code-word for the eternal, spiritual dimension of our lives- all of the invisible yet apparent energies like love, compassion, generosity, gratitude- and all the unnamable mysteries like God. I put them all into the container of joy- as both a presence, a practice, and a felt experience. I wanted to give my life in devotion to this- to tune my heart, mind and attention to cultivating and exploring this joy.
We tend our gardens. We tend the fires of the hearth… we tend to each other. To tend means to give attention to or to lean toward… I liked that. Soon people began to come to my booth at the artisan’s fairs, read the sign, “Tending Joy” and say, “wow- great brand.” I didn’t know that I had created a brand. In fact, this made me a little nervous. I am not a guru or a life-coach, or a master of joy. I am a poet. I also have an enthusiasm and a curiosity for the realm of joy.
This is what I’ve learned so far: Joy is a kind of grace: a loving relationship with living- with your soul, the world, the world-soul. This is a relationship which can be cultivated and grown- an intimacy with the ins and outs of your life; it’s a conversation, a call and response, a deep and energetic feeling of love and belonging. I’ve also discovered that many of us have a resistance to joy- although this is actually a resistance to our judgments about joy. In a world of turmoil, we feel we don’t deserve it. And, deeper still, we worry that joy is one more charismatic attribute we need to put on like a costume, or exude like a sexy magnetism- one more game we have to play, or one more table we have to dance on. No wonder we find the idea of joy or joyful living daunting or exhausting, selfish or silly. But that is not the kind of joy I have given my life in service and devotion to.
The joy I’ve been exploring is so much bigger, wider, and subtler than our more superficial assumptions- quieter even, and more nourishing and sustaining. This joy is a fundamental possession that resides in the heart and longs to be uncovered rather than put on. It is the spaciousness of our unanswered questions, rather than anything we could ever achieve or acquire. It is the joy we experience when we shed our assumptions, our self-images, our prejudices and our pride- it is the joy that is the essence of our being. This joy is felt when we live in, for, and from love. If we have wandered from it, as most of us do many times a day, then joy is felt when we return to our loving center.
I know there is the joy of cooking, the joy of crafting, the joy of creating a beautiful lifestyle…but what I’ve found is that there is also an even greater joy- the joy which surrounds, infuses, and contains all of these things. I created the Tending Joy Blog as a beautiful place to visit and converse, and to enjoy the unfolding invitation to discover, each for ourselves, the many ways we may live in love by cultivating intimacy with our lives, our essence, with each other and the world. Thank you so much for joining me here!
In love and friendship, Ingrid Goff-Maidoff
…Joy is a multifaceted jewel~ a rich landscape to explore. Joy is oneness. Joy is love. Joy is sensual, and sacred. Joy is all around us, and at the center of our being. Joy is a wise and felt awareness of love and belonging which infuses our whole life~ feeding our passion, creativity, and participation in the world.
I’ve created a free download sample page from my JOY TENDER GIFTING CARDS set. Here is a page of seven pretty cards to print and cut and scatter joy with. JOY TENDER’S GIFTING CARDS sample
Joy Tender’s Gifting cards celebrate the presence and the practice of joy. They are a digital download pdf containing 30 inspiring cards to print, cut and keep by your altar, bedside, or desk for a pick-me-up reflection, or share with clients and send to friends. Joy Cards are a sweet tone-setter for retreats, creating an atmosphere of beauty, optimism, possibility and calm. Tuck them into correspondence; put them on your vision board; scatter joy about your home and community. Leave them in surprising places….These are beautiful reminders of love and belonging to help focus your intention and tune the heart and mind to joy.
This morning I put the kettle on to boil and then headed out to the asparagus patch to harvest some of its skyward reaching shoots. Jonah and I have been spending a lot of time digging in the dirt this spring. He’s been teaching sustainability. I call it “restoring Eden.”
In the garden, much like everywhere, we don’t know what we are doing. We refer to books for advice and promptly forget their guidance. Standing amid the fertile weeds, we must forgive in advance our failings. It feels like the only way to proceed is to call this not toil but surrender; not labor but opportunity. Anything is possible here. Surely something will grow.
On my way to the asparagus, I pop a single red strawberry into my mouth. I used to save these sweet offerings for the children, feeling double delight in their pleasure. Now that they are grown, I’m learning, once again, how to please myself. I’m surprised that this is a work in unraveling and not simply second nature.
The strawberries are ripening one a day so far, each a sacramental offering to hold on the tongue in communion. Yes, if we relied on this crop we would starve. And yes, if we weren’t thankful for every humble thing, we would also starve.
What do I know of joy ~
except it is a word that I have savored?
A word so much like God,
full of promise and tender relating.
What do I know of Joy,
except it is a gift that I have opened
to find the forgiveness, wonder and welcome
that breathe life into my life?
Next week I will speak to a class on the presence and practice of joy. Today I feel I can’t do this. I have so little to say. For the Greeks, the word Joy is Char, from the word Charis, which means grace. What do I know, then, of grace, except the lovely way it slips in and holds us when we rest in our own unknowing. So I might say,
Give up wisdom.
Give up thinking that
you should always know
what to do; what to say;
what is skillful
or even best.
until you can enjoy
your own curious and frail
Feel how freeing
this actually is.
Sure, celebrate your triumphs,
but also, see if you can love
the tender place of unknowing.
Accept how vulnerable you are-
how possible it is
to be wrong, confused,
imperfect and adored.
Why do I love, as much as anything, a bowl of apples, a wooden spoon?