Grace and Peace to you friends,
The other day I purchased a book of two hero’s of mine, Dali Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Book of Joy, which is a compilation of a week-long conversation between these two spiritual leaders and best friends. The very nature of their conversation brings me to a place of thanksgiving. They have distinguished between happiness and joy saying, “Joy is something different than happiness. When I use the word happiness, in a sense I mean satisfaction. Sometimes we have a painful experience, but that experience, as you’ve said with birth, can bring great satisfaction and joyfulness.”
On the occasion of this Thanksgiving letter I’d like to share my thanksgivings of joy this past year has offered. I am thankful for both community and beauty. Mt. Sterling has become a sanctuary for me. A gift to be away from traffic, to plan menus as the grocery is fifteen minutes in all directions, and to experience the intertwined relationships of community. I am thankful for the beauty of nature found in the sky at sunrise and sunset and especially the stars at night which are brighter and more abundant without light pollution. I am thankful for places to be in creation like Deer Creek State Park where I can wander and wonder at the beauty of God’s handiwork. I am thankful for a home that welcomes family and friends and provides space for hospitality to be extended generously.
What is all of this to say? I have found joy in the simplicity of life and lifestyle that I have not experienced before. There is a profound difference between chasing after what may make one happy and discovering joy. You see, happiness as satisfaction is something that is made, purchased or sought after. Joy, on the other hand, is a gift that is stumbled upon in the journey of life. Let’s be thankful for the joy found in a conversation and a smile. Let’s be thankful for the joy of laughter and even with the intimacy of tears. Let’s be thankful for the sight of beauty in the simplicity of tall grass waving in the breeze and the palette of colors upon the leaves of the trees. We can not seek joy like we can seek happiness, instead let’s notice joy all around us and be thankful for its gift.