I love the title of my new blog series. The notion that we cultivate, or grow, joy in our lives is inspirational to me. Sometimes we stumble upon joy, but typically we are invested in joy; in our ability to see it, appreciate it, and provide and care for a climate where it will grow.
For the past few days I have been feeling many emotions due to a raging wildfire in my community; from fear, to disbelief, sadness, anger and joy. Joy? Yes, joy. It took me a while to get there, but I did. Amid the sounds of sirens, air tankers, helicopters, and worry in the voices of friends and neighbors, I was able to find some perspective.
I enjoyed a glass of wine with my husband as we discussed the notion of evacuation, the heartbreak for those who have lost homes, and the reminder that all property is replaceable. While we sat on our front porch "bistro" during a break from the smoke, we enjoyed talking to neighbors as they walked or drove by, and appreciated a beautiful butterfly who came to visit some flowers nearby us.
The same nature that can be so violent, erratic and overpowering can also simultaneously share beauty, awe and tenderness. During the time of the fire and forced indoor summer activities, I had the opportunity to spend more time with my kids. My teenage son and I shared a long conversation about life and growing up, and I spent a beautiful afternoon with my preteen daughter who was thrilled to be back in the kitchen (her happy place) baking with me. Then, I watched her share her goodies with friends and neighbors.
Lastly, I watched a very large community come together and become quite small. Strangers helped strangers in need, residents brought food and water to the many brave firefighters working tirelessly to fight the massive wildfire. And, in the process of writing this blog, I have found an opportunity to donate a child's play set for which I have been trying to find a good home. My original thoughts for homes did not work out. Perhaps for this reason. Now, that play set will likely go to a young child who lost his or her home or belongings in the fire.
My heart, that was once filled with heaviness, sadness and helplessness is now refueled with joy. Some sadness and heartache still linger, but I have cultivated room and perspective that grows joy. It seems that with each bit of joy planted, it spreads and grows.
May you tend to the soil of your heart, too. What are you growing in there? Among, between and within all of the negative messages we hear, news we receive, or obstacles we face, there is always something to be grateful for and joyous about. Some people say "stop and smell the roses". I agree, but add to that, "pause and cultivate your joy". We have a choice. Let's choose joy.