Gilbert Keith Chesterton was a wise and merry soul. Listen to this wisdom from him on joy:
“The test of all happiness is gratitude … Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he put in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? … Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy.” (Orthodoxy, a must read).
So if the test of joy is gratitude, how have I been thankful today? Well, quite, actually. I spent the morning at the Calgary Stampede parade with my kids. The parade is a long march of horses (after 5 or so you’ve pretty much seen the parade). But I was grateful for being with Owen and Lily, their joy in the event, in horse after horse and the tanks that roared up 9th Ave., in the cup of Kona coffee I was drinking (thanks to the lovely gift from a friend the previous evening), the true blue sky painted before me, the sun warming my skin, the beautiful,dextrous little fingers of Lily as she painstaking and patiently ate only the outsides of her glazed donut leaving the caky donut guts, the way Owen’s body vibrates with delight, a constant movement and energy and keeps me young, for a parking space, for the pride in wearing my orange Netherlands t-shirt, for the legs that carried me throughout the day, the way my kids trusted and followed me, for my camera that helps me capture moments, the great questions and observations of my kids, the smiling face of Betty, that melts me as much as the day’s heat, as she met us for lunch, for air conditioning, for the sharp tang and carbonation of the San Pellegrino limonata that I’m cooling of with now.
I really could go on but I’d just bore you because it’s all the same mundane stuff your life is filled with. Which gets at the second part of Chesterton’s observation – pessimism is a weariness with good, tired of ordinary goodness and everyday joy. Each day has delight enough to fire every synapse and smoke your neurons – if only we’d see it, pay attention to it. Being mindful is more than half the battle in living out joy each day. How am I becoming aware of each small and common gift – the sun that didn’t have to shine today, the heart that didn’t have to keep beating; the taste buds that keep flavour fireworks going in my mouth; the eyes that constantly behold a parade of wonders.
Lord, may I never tire of the small and ordinary joys that each day of living offers. Keep me sharply alert to spy every goodness. Awaken in me a merry and grateful soul.