Easter 2001God alone is the joy of my life. (St. John of the Cross)

Living From One's Joy

I once heard of some one who gave away umbrellas. She even sent an umbrella to a place where it seldom rained. The one who received it used it as decoration in her home and said that looking at it made her feel loved.

This "umbrella lady" brought not only umbrellas but also joy to strangers, to the person who lost a job, to the farmer selling tomatoes along the roadside and joy even to the passerby who seemed to need encouragement more than protection from the rain. It all began when she herself had received an umbrella, unexpectedly. Truly, this is a nice warm Chicken Soup story.1

Theologian, Karl Rahner, stated that Easter and joy are two words that mean the same. For a brief time, the burden of life seems to be lifted with the presence of spring, most especially spring in the soul, cheery pastels, jubilant organ music and the color green, all so full of promise. The challenge, of course, comes in finding a way to keep in touch with, and to draw from, this hidden source of life.

Do we make our own joy, or do we just draw from what is already there? I also ask myself the question: How does one bring joy to a situation that seems to need it? How does one help open the springs of joy in another? Probably by listening to them with attention. It also seems that sometimes tears need to be shed before joy can rise up within us. Maybe this is what Good Friday is all about.

A long time ago, Thomas Merton said that the tears we shed are the tears of God, since both spring from the same source. So, Easter is really underneath all those tears. Almost always, we are called not to walk around the tears but through them. Some people tell themselves that tomorrow will be a better day. I prefer to believe that the better day can start right now.

The Risen Jesus is now the heart of the world, our world, and the abiding love that promises never to leave us, no matter what it may look like. This same Jesus somehow finds a way into every heart, effecting there a gentle restlessness that eventually leads the person to the very heart of God.

This Easter, I plan to ponder what my umbrella might be. What is it that is likely to help release my own sense of joy, and what is it that I would most like to keep on giving to others?

1Chicken Soup for the Golden Soul, Canfield and Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises, Inc., 2000, Jan 26, Roberta Messner. Year In A Box, Cullman Ventures, Inc., 2000.

Sister Mary Jo Loebig, O.C.D.

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