Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Duty of Delight

These days I am usually operating at a baseline of worn out. As a result I can sometimes find myself defaulting to annoyed rather than amused. Recently, as I was having a bit of a deep sigh filled, pity party while cleaning up yet another kid/dog/cat/kitchen/life mess I heard a whisper in my heart.

"Hey, you know this is real life, right?"

Early on in my marriage, thrilled that I had my own personal MD to whom I could report every ache, pain and random body quirk, Ryland said something I will never forget.

"Jen, you realize no one's body is perfectly pain and symptom free all the time, right? The body is a complex system. These little things don't mean something is drastically wrong with you. They just  happen."

It can be hard to convey tone, but he is such a patient man. He said this compassionately. And as silly as it sounds, it was a revelation to me. That stitch in my side, the heartburn, the twitchy left eye, the bump on my leg that has been there for years...Turns out it is actually normal life stuff.

The same way it is hard to find a perfectly functioning human body, it is equally rare to find a annoyance free life. Here in my 40s I am increasingly aware that much of life includes the little nuisances, some of life includes the really scary, painful times and sprinkled throughout are the plethora of small but delightful moments that refresh our souls, lift our spirits and keep us keeping on...We simply have to train ourselves to look for them.

I just finished reading Gregory Boyle's wonderful book Tattoos on the Heart--in it he references a phrase from John Ruskin "the duty of delight."

It is not something I had considered before...
Delight as a duty.
Revelry as a necessity.
Counting blessings as a requirement.
Choosing joy as part of my job description.

We have so many other items on our busy Mama To Do lists...but what if we added delight as a "must do?"

What if we made it a daily priority to pause and breathe in the restorative beauty and wonder in each other and in the moments that tickle us.

As I wrote in a previous post, I think social media gets a bad rap as a place where people fake their lives--and of course, there are those who use the platform to do so. But, I prefer to think of it as an instrument for the discipline of delight. Like a photographer gifted in looking for the shot, I hope my heart is trained to seek the moments. Typically deemed insignificant in the grand scheme of life, I want to search for the daily randomness that brings joy, peace, love and laughter.

Like a kid-purchased light up bow tie at the skate center, 
the randomness of  a disco dancing Grumpy Cat,
Squeals at being carried like a sack of potatoes,
the ingenuity of bored kids on a Saturday morning,
the warmth of a post bath sit by the fire...a feeling I clearly remember from my own childhood.

Real life with all its ups and downs holds so many sweet treasures--in our backyards, our living rooms, around our kitchen tables...

These are the moments that make up our lives...rather than rush by them, what if we instead reveled. Just a momentary pause to freeze the frame, take it in and grin at the random, messy, quirky, delight of it all.

And as we approach this week where we celebrate gratitude it can be easy to speak in trite phrases--to make sweeping statements about our gratitude for broad categories of family, health and friends.

But I pray in the normal days that come after the feast I may be found faithful in practicing the duty of delight.


Keri said...

I love this post! Remembering the duty of delight might keep me from feeling those (unnecessary and unGodly) twinges of guilt when I find myself feeling "too happy" while others are suffering, and it will help me to revel in those simple happy moments when frustration and discouragement are the themes of the day. Thank you for sharing these wise and life-giving thoughts with us.

Denise Ross said...

Thank you for the heart eye reset. I needed this today. Happy thanksgiving JMom to you and yours xo. Your posts always bless me :)