We sing “Joy to the World” at this time of year, yet the holiday season can feel like anything but joy for someone going through a tough time. This week, I would like to offer a little cup of joy to accompany your holiday cookies and challenges. It was an immediate “YES!” when my dear friend, Rev. Cindy Grimes, the Senior Minister of the Center for Spiritual Living in Ocala, Florida, asked me to join her for a conversation about “Why Happiness is Overrated.” I love this topic! We asked each other questions and shared thoughts and stories while exploring the difference between happiness and joy. Click this link if you would like to watch the video.
During our conversation, I referenced a presentation by Rob Bell called “An Introduction to Joy.” I had the great fortune to attend this event live in 2019 before the pandemic shut everything down. I can best describe this show as part stand-up comedy / part spiritual master class. Rob Bell graciously uploaded the whole presentation to YouTube once the tour ended. Now anyone with internet access can watch it for free. The things he talks about are as hilarious as they are insightful. I hope you will make time to watch the video by clicking this link. It is well worth the hour and fifteen minutes!
In that presentation, Rob Bell also makes a distinction between happiness and joy. He believes happiness depends on outward circumstances being the way we prefer them, while joy can be present even in the darkest of times. Cindy asked me to share a time when I experienced that dichotomy. The first thing that came to mind was the final moments of my mother’s life. Along with the grief of losing her physical presence came great joy that she was now free of the body and mind that had been failing her. She literally left my brother and me laughing. You can hear the details of that experience in my conversation with Cindy.
What I’d like to share here is an unexpected moment of joy that happened at an Italian restaurant later that evening. Since it was one of my mother’s favorites, it felt appropriate to take my brother there for dinner. There was a slightly awkward moment when the owner recognized me and asked why my mother wasn’t with us. I told him that she had just passed a few hours ago, and he offered his condolences. Then he said something I didn’t know I needed to hear. Having observed us many times over the years, he complimented me on how well I tended to my mother’s needs. He said he hopes that when he reaches my mother’s age there is someone looking after him with as much love and care as I had for her. Wow. That still gets me a little choked up.
It was a rough road with my mother during those last years after she moved to Florida to be closer to me. No matter what I did or how much time I spent with her, it never felt like enough to her. I did my best to find balance, but there was always some lingering guilt. I’m so grateful for the teachings of A Course in Miracles for helping me find peace during that roller coaster ride of emotions. I wish I had known about Family Constellations then! In the end, I trust it all unfolded perfectly. And, knowing that the love I had for my mother was clearly visible to someone outside of the equation brings me great joy.
To those of you going through a difficult time, (and honestly who among us isn’t?) please be gentle with yourself and trust that you are navigating this challenge better than you might think! Someone is watching you continue to show up and do your best time after time with great admiration. In the meantime, remember your ancestors are standing behind you cheering you on to the joyous life you were meant to live. You can do it!
If I can be of additional assistance with a series of Spiritual Coaching sessions or a private Family Constellations session, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I know this is a busy time of year, so you can also purchase a gift certificate now to get the support you need in the New Year. Some of my prices are increasing in 2022, so now is a good time to take advantage of my current pricing. For more information and to book a session, please visit my website or simply send me an email.
Wishing you many moments of joy and light this holiday season…
Light and joy and peace abide in me.
A Course in Miracles ~ Workbook Lesson 93