The word joy gets more air time than usual this time of year.
On Christmas greetings sent back and forth.
Joy to the World sung by congregations and choirs.
With Advent candles lit in churches and in homes.
Whenever I hear or read the word joy I am reminded of the observation by Thomas Merton.
A quote I have carried with me and pondered for many years.
“[We] were not created for happiness, but for joy. If we do not yet know the difference we have not yet begun to live.”
After hearing the word joy several times this morning in the worship service I watched, I found myself, once again, thinking about joy as I went on my morning walk.
I think joy is more external than internal.
Something that emerges in our interactions with others.
At least that is what seems true in my life.
Imagining and creating a whole new world under a sheet with my grandson.
Special moments spent with my sons and my wife and good friends.
Standing outside a newly built or repaired home with a homeowner who never dreamed what she now sees would ever be possible.
And, at least for me, joy is subtle.
More often quiet than something announced with trumpets loud crashing cymbals.
Maybe that is because I am an introvert.
Or, maybe that is just the way joy is.
And, I think we miss joy in our lives because we focus too much on happiness.
Because happiness often is framed in individual terms.
Am I happy?
Are my children happy?
Merton touched on something beyond my knowing.
At least today.
And probably tomorrow, as well.
And so I will continue to live pondering his wisdom.
And hoping to find my way.