Ingrid Goff Maidoff - Tending Joy

"A woman is of the earth. She may have many harvests,each according to its own season." ~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, Good Mother, Welcome.

Joy and sorrow

Ingrid Goff-Maidoff

Joy and sorrow
are the shade and light of life;
without light and shade
no picture is clear.
~Hazrat Inayat Khan

    Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
But we can choose to live in joy.
  ~Joseph Campbell

     I have learned from experience, and the company of friends, that Joy doesn't turn her back on sorrow.  I have learned that faith, love and joy can not prevent bad things from happening, but that they strengthen our resilience and hold us.

There are times of the year, the darker seasons especially, and times of the moon, according to my body’s cycles, when I drop down into the suffering of the world.  I acknowledge its presence, and allow it to enter me.  Sometimes it overcomes me like an ocean wave.  I surrender to its currents; bits of seaweed wrap around my neck; sand gathers in my eyes.  I fold myself into this sorrow.  If I inhale, the tears of the world may drown me.  If I exhale, I will be spent.  If I resist, the energy of sadness would not flow through me and along.  I would become a rigid thing and be carried away.

        The existence of this pain, this universal undeniable pain, reminds me of an onion sometimes: you go down into its center and it coaxes tears out of you.  And, like the onion, there are layers upon layers expanding outward.  Around the suffering is a layer of violence and cruelty.  Several layers beyond that, some semblance of sympathy arises.  Soon we find a layer of compassion, then creativity, dreaming, justice, the energy of hope. 

     The very outer ring, the one that surrounds and contains all the others- that’s the divine presence- and that is Joy. Even in my times of deepest sadness, I know the still embrace of this outer ring – this ever-expanding Joy.

     Now back down to the ocean floor, gently swayed by sorrow’s currents, I remember that if I look up I will see a glimmer of light. The sun’s rays light the day, reaching down through the water like a luminous tunnel.  If I lift toward this light, swim toward it, even if the effort is great, I will find myself in clarity again - tired maybe; drained perhaps - yet with the promise of renewal, and a deep breath, and the chance to begin again.  

      To live in Joy does not suggest the avoidance of pain.  In this mortal lifetime, that is nearly impossible.  Joy is emphatically more than the absence of pain.  Joy is limitless, unconditional, nonjudgmental, infinite, boundless, eternal, ultimate, and absolute.  Joy holds all things.  In Joy we come into the loving and energetic presence of life which stays with us through sorrow and pain, although our ability to perceive this may at times be forgotten. 

      If you feel discouraged or exhausted by your pain, try not to condemn yourself.  Don’t think that you are failing because you should be feeling joy: release that hidden pressure.  Surrender your self-judgments.  Surrender them to Joy.

Let Thy might strengthen me,
Thy light inspire me, Lord,
and Thy love move my soul
to the ultimate joy.
~Hazrat Inayat Khan

 Go forth into the busy world
and love it. Interest yourself in its life,
mingle kindly with its joys and sorrows.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you Love and Joy, Ingrid

Copyright 2011/12 Ingrid Goff Maidoff, all rights reserved.

Ingrid Goff-Maidoff is a universalist poet, mystic, celebrant of beauty and encourager of spirit who lives on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Her work appears in numerous anthologies, and she has lovingly created dozens of books and gifts that help deepen intimacy with the sacred. Her blog, her inspirational offerings, and her popular Joy Postcards Newsletter all are found at