One of the best experienced teachers on joy has to be my favourite Oxford don, and court jester, Clive Staples Lewis. In the quote below, he’s describing a moment on a train when he felt invited to experience something more than the train journey. He surgically articulates those subtle, mostly unnoticed, movements of the heart that are involved in choosing, or turning away from, joy.
“I am free to take it or not as I choose—like distant music which you need not listen to unless you wish, like a delicious faint wind on your face which you can easily ignore. One was invited to surrender to it. And the odd thing is that something inside me suggested that it would be “sensible” to refuse the invitation; almost that I would be better employed in remembering that I was going to do a job I do not greatly enjoy and that I should have a very tiresome journey back to Oxford. Then I silenced this inward wiseacre. I accepted the invitation—threw myself open to this feathery, impalpable, tingling sensation. The rest of the journey I passed in a state which can be described only as joy.” (Present Concerns and other essays, p. 52-53)
I’m on a similar trip tomorrow – on a three and a half hour plane ride to Chicago for the Christian Reformed Church’s annual Synod, to do a job I’m not sure I’ll greatly enjoy. But I’m going to surrender to joy. I just might be the happiest person to be on the floor of Synod.