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