Finding Joy in Life
Saturday was a fun day. The beautiful spring weather, warm and sunny, was so welcome after the brutal arctic winter we just endured. I took my son over to the preschool, and we had a fun time making a fairy garden. My son enjoyed meeting many new friends, my week day preschool students. I really love being a preschool teacher, especially at my new job with its low ratios and high joy. I wish there was room for my son to attend, but at least full wait lists show the quality of the place and how fortunate I am to work there.
But even in the midst of all this sunshine, the storm clouds still crowd my mind. The other teachers and parents were talking about their houses, churches, date nights with their spouses, school districts and homework for their children, all the middle class conversations and concerns with which I grew up, the life I thought I would have before my illusion of a safe, secure world was shattered.
It is hard not to be jealous when I overhear mothers able to stay at home, in their new house, because their husband makes such a nice salary as a pastor. My security, my housing, my dreams were all robbed and shattered by the church. I humble my heart and reflect on my spiritual journey, and the rebirth from the ashes.
I understand that everyone has their own private battles and healing journey. But I don’t understand why so many people care so little about, or at least don’t pay much attention to, the pain of others. Why do people worry about getting their children into the most desirable school district, or scoring that mortgage for the biggest house, or think it is a catastrophe that their spare car needs some brake work, when others outside that middle class bubble are desperately searching for a job, any job, or working full time and still starving in the hunger of poverty, shivering in the cold of homelessness, dying in front of a hospital door closed by lack of insurance, and facing police violence and false imprisonment just for the crime of being poor?
Some religious and new age followers would say we cannot compare one person’s journey to another’s, but the problem with that statement is this: the people who never have to worry about poverty, hunger, and false imprisonment are contributing to the system of injustice by their silence. Because of this silence, the wheels of pain keep turning.
But in this pain, there is also great wisdom. I have learned more about life, human nature, and spirituality in my struggles and oppression than I ever could fathom when I was child in the silent privilege of white middle class America.
No matter how great the pain, there is also joy. I take joy in the happiness of my son. I take joy in my new preschool job, so full of light, peace, and children’s laughter. I take joy in romantic nights with my husband framed with beautiful music and the excitement of a spring thunderstorm in the background.
The Buddha taught us that peace is found within our soul, never in our outward circumstance. This is true, and I want to focus more on the joy in my life. At the same time, I want to be a light worker in this dark world, helping others to escape the prisons of the System, and not breaking a bruised reed, as Yeshua taught us. To quote Simon and Garfunkel, I want to disturb the sound of silence and learn the words written on the subway walls and tenement halls. Break the System by breaking the silence.
Friend, if you are struggling today, look for the joy in your life, even if it only feels as small as a shimmer of light catching the dust, as fragile as a spider web in a gale. Embrace the Holy Spirit wisdom in the midst of your hardship. If you are experiencing a time of prosperity and abundance, examine your life to see if there is any way you are silently contributing to the pain of another, and find the courage to raise your voice.
Joy in the journey, and mindfulness of others, is the path of Holy Spirit Reiki, and holiness.