Joy Is In The Journey

I had an article due for our newsletter on Friday and I didn’t make my deadline. We went with something else. I thought I had a good subject, the Journey of Joy—huh. After many rewrites, I began to feel like I had no idea what joy is. The more I thought about it and tried to explain it, the less I realized I knew.

I was certainly not feeling anything of the sort as I wrote and reread what I wrote. I was relieved when I heard the Marketing department could work around it. At that point, I needed to see it—this Joy—in order to believe it, in order to write about it. I closed my computer.

I drove home for a Friday night with my devoted husband and dog, and my cat named Mary. I guess Mary is devoted too, just a little hot and cold. Like Joy might seem sometimes…

Today, I spent the afternoon in a meeting with Danceworks’ teaching artists—40 or so of them—and it didn’t take me long to understand that I was seeing what I had been trying to write about yesterday. Why do they teach? Why do these individuals go into classrooms with students who carry with them challenges from depression to ADD, restlessness to homelessness, loneliness to hopelessness, hungry and not wanting to take their shoes off because they have on holey socks?

I asked myself the question knowing the answer. They teach because they are connected to whom it is they are in this world. They teach because they know their purpose and how to connect it to the Greater Good. Good purpose contributing to the Greater Good. Who dares to say what that might mean from one person to the next?

They teach in all situations. They teach when they’re sick, when they’re tired. They teach on through the children’s challenges and struggles. They teach those who don’t want to join the dance because they don’t think they will fit in.

A teacher enters the room with the highest of expectations, not for her self but for the students. She has learned the art of Compassion. This came with a price. She had to first learn Humility.

She knows she will have days of failure. She knows her weaknesses will be exposed. She knows she will face battles. Yet she enters the room.

For the dance.

What is this dance that takes us out of our limitations, failures, weaknesses, fears, doubts, anxieties, hopelessness, comfort and then points us to a new door?

Who or what will we meet on the other side?

Joy. She stands there waiting for us to acknowledge her because she’s been there all along and wonders why we’re surprised to find her there. She invites us in.

We enter the dance though hesitant, cautious, maybe curious. We enter and hear the music, find a partner, and start taking steps. One at a time. We persist. We have started to dance and Joy “tickles under our ribs”.

The dance takes endurance. Endurance builds strength. We know that strength lends itself to greater confidence and from that confidence comes an unexpected sense of Peace within. Ah-ha! Peace brings with it an ease that allows us to move in rhythm with others, to see others as we haven’t seen them before—connected to us, alive with us, dancing with us. When they miss a step, we help out because we have discovered a new sense of who Patience is by caring for who that person is. Compassion has grown within us without even realizing it.

We are in the dance and all the while Joy has been there with us.

It may be a mystery. It may not be explainable, definable or rational that Joy stays around in all situations, all struggles, all sorrows. She knows both muscular and skeletal flexibility. She has emotional strength and intellectual agility. She has unexpected arrivals and ill-timed departures. But she always keeps her promise to step forward when called upon. (Like Mary, just because she seems a little distant at times, it doesn’t mean she’s not there.)

So you see? I discovered Joy through seeing it, rather than thinking about her. She is not a journey, she is in the journey always, ever present, ever hopeful for the next meal or opportunity to run into the world with us…like Mary (who escaped out the door at 1:00 AM when I let Sam out this morning)—and ever faithful to be there with us in the dance—the dance, where holey meets Holy. Yes, you got that right. It’s a partner dance.

Want to dance?

Featured Image by Zachary Nelson

16 thoughts on “Joy Is In The Journey

  1. What a beautiful description, Deb! I think perhaps that is why music, singing and dancing are such an important part of our worship… they each instill in us a sense of delight, wonder, gratitude… and the resulting joy. They touch our hearts deeply… in that place where there are no words. You truly understand joy even if at first, you couldn’t put it into words. And by the way, I so admire your ability to write descriptively… I have never been a poet. But I love poetry. And your words paint such vivid word pictures. I admire that so much. Love and hugs!

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    1. And art! I just listened to a message on Rembrandt’s painting of the Prodigal. Where would we be without our artists’ eyes and depiction of God’s Beauty and Truth? All are expressions of the Creative Spirit and are ways to draw nearer to God. You appreciate descriptive writing because you can paint it! Thank you for your beautiful words Lynn. You always touch my heart. Now I’m going to pop over and see your latest post! I’ve been looking forward to it Love you, Deb

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  2. “Good purpose contributing to the Greater Good.”

    Deb,

    This article is so fine in so many ways. I have shared it at The Peaceful Pub because it is something everyone will benefit from, but it also pays a grand tribute to teachers. We have several teachers at that site, and I think your article will give them a boost.

    So very much enjoy my time with your work.

    Sarah

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  3. Awesome..As I read this the Lord led me to Nehemiah chapter 8:10..”…..Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” In reminding me of that portion of the verse, I had to read the whole chapter to understand the context thereof. He reminded me of the people it was addressed to, who had experienced great tragedy, but now were experiencing great triumph because their wall had been restored but now their lives, worship and faith were also being restored. As I read Ezra’s words I could also hear your words in this blog…Ezra declared Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength…I can see a picture so clear as God was restoring the lives of the people, using people to help people…..O what blessed assurance it is when God brings us from tragedy to triumph and restores our lives, our worship, our faith, and our JOY!

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    1. I’m sitting outside on the cement beside my dog. Sam’s back legs are starting to fail him so we sit more and more now instead of walk. It’s 6:30 am amd it’s cold. I can see my breath. The tea kettle is on and probably whistling by now but I had to stop and write to you. You have just blessed me. Nehemiah 8:10 was my Dad’s instruction to me in his Power of Attorney. I wasn’t going to look at my phone yet this morning because I didn’t want to be distracted before I move into my Bible study but I did as I sit here with Sam and wait. And what did I find but Him here with me in the comments. You know how slow this blogging journey has been for me Anthony. I have had to battle again and again if I was writing for my own vain pursuits or for God’s Good purpose. (Oh LORD keep me straight.) Thank you for the encouragement and precious affirmation. Love you brother, Deb

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  4. Deb,
    As I prepare lessons for a new week with students in the classroom (2nd graders…20…in December), I will think of this fine article and its sentiments. You’d think in December that Joy would show up first in line. Often we have to stop purposely looking for joy, & it shows up out of nowhere. Because it’s there in our midst of chaos & order. I appreciate this article—a gift.
    Jan

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    1. You are so right Jan. Joy often shows up when we aren’t looking for it. Thank you for your kind words. Thank you for all the young lives you are pouring yourself into. It’s so lovely to connect and I look forward to reading your work! You are a gift!

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      1. It’s nice to connect through writing. Your article is inspiring for jump-starting the work-week, especially in these busy December times. I may have to reread a few parts. 🙂 Take care. Jan

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    1. That’s why you take class silly. Why would you take one if you already knew how to do it? Everyone else is in your same position. The secret to any great class is connecting with the teacher. If you don’t, don’t give up. Just know that the right teacher for you is out there. 😉 You will find one. Come on. Join the dance! Wish you lived in Milwaukee. Do you…?

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