Monday, July 9, 2012

The Ship of Joy

Joy riding old school...
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. - John 15:11

Joy is like an old ship that was headed to some adventure, but sinks instead like a slow rock under the heaviness of life, waiting to be unearthed. 

It takes a while to uncover joy. It usually is under several feet of murky water, rotting in sin. Divers, plunging in on the breath of prayer, found my ship a while ago, full of Spanish gold. 

The treasure laden ship has started to rise to the surface on the current of contemplation. But I am reluctant to let it. I have just enough happiness to coast for now. I cannot imagine swimming in gold. If I throw around my money, everyone will see that I am one of those annoying "nouveau riche" Christians and they will either roll their eyes or expect way too much from me. 

They won't realize of course that the money is not mine, I inherited it a while back. The marine trust fund has been discovered, but it could disappear again underwater at any time. So, instead of facing the constant fear of sinking, I simply keep my hand on the ship of joy, watching as it bobs underwater, struggling to get to the surface.

Too much joy after all is just not something most people want or can handle. It causes unrealistic expectations and of course, like everyone, I am deathly afraid of smiling for the rest of my life. Joy and sanctity are so intertwined. Too much sanctity, now that is even scarier than the never ending smile. So I have decided to keep this joy boat under wraps. It seems proper.

After all, like most people, I prefer to waver just above average in the sanctity business - just enough so people will admire me but no more. With anything more than slightly above mediocre comes the hassle of consistency. God knows, it's the consistency that makes a saint. And then the adventure is all over from there.

Or is it?

I forgot it's the ship of joy that carries us on the adventure in the first place.


Anonymous said...

Too late, Theresa. Your joy has been spilling out the seams!!

Jason Pannone said...

:) We are made for joy, and it's a bonny ship to sail.

Anonymous said...

For some unknown reason this made be think of Tom Bombadil in Lord of the Rings.
Tolkein wanted Tom Bombadil to be enigmatic but for me he is very God-like representing primeval, divine, child-like joy (notice Jesus' particular love for children) - God in His essence before angels and man brought misery into this world.
And Tom Bombadil is the opposite, the antidote to Sauron / the Eye.
Jesus is far more serious than Tom Bombadil, but don't forget, books, as the Bible says, could have been written about Jesus, and Jesus isn't God in entirety - Jesus is the second Person in the Holy Trinity. But there is great "joy" in Jesus' life as well. But Jesus is very much God's serious response about how to bring man back, ultimately, to His great joy.
Francis of Assisi is a bit Tom Bombadil-like (and, of course, with the very serious side we see Christ).
Lastly, faith and hope, these are all vital. But without love, it's all useless, ultimately, and at the end of the day, without joy (and some vision of joy for others), we can't truly love (sorry for stating the obvious / sounding preachy - trying to create an overall picture of joy).
So carry on with your "joy spilling out the seams" - more, not less!
God bless,

Hey dol! merry dol! ring a dong dillo!
Ring a dong! hop along! fal lal the willow!
Tom Bom, jolly Tom, Tom Bombadillo!

Anonymous said...

"God in His essence before angels and man brought misery into this world"

- That the angels and man brought misery into existence NOT God (angels / man disrupted God's Joy)

Had to qualify that 'else would have sounded really heretical ..


tagnes said...

Amen Jason!

Ed, That is really funny that you mention Tom Bomdadil, and I think it is right on. He is a beautiful personification of spiritual joy.

I take issue with your oh so serious portrayal of Jesus though. :) I think Jesus had to have been a joyful guy since his soul participated in the beatific vision, what is more joy inducing that that? I am hoping to read Fr. Martin's book about the subject of joy sometime and learn more about this..

In Jesus,


Anonymous said...

I agree with you about Jesus. I didn't mean to imply Jesus was without joy.
Firstly, at times he says he was joyful.
Secondly, there is the joy of the Wedding Feast, the Transfiguration, and so on.
Thirdly, the Bible says, somewhere, that many books could have been written about Jesus - no doubts books about his perfect joy and humanity (and divinity).
Also, that Jesus doesn't equal the fulness of God but the Second Person in the Holy Trinity. Tom Bombadil evokes (in an artistic way) something of the great Joy of God that we intuit but that is not portrayed like this in the Bible.
That the fulness of God = Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And that Jesus is intimately part of the Joy of God in general but that Jesus also evokes the very serious side of God which is to bring man back to the perfect Joy of God!
That Jesus isn't serious for the sake of being serious but serious so that he can bring us back to the great Joy of God (a joy which Jesus is intricately part of, as Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Trinity).

Anonymous said...

Also, regarding Tom Bombadil, we SORT OF get that joy, too,
in Shakespeare:
Where the bee sucks there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough.
(The Tempest, 5.1.94-100), Ariel
In Mozart (Magic Flute)
In Simon & Garfunkel (Feelin' Groovy)
In Charles Dickens (after Scrooge wakes up and dances about with great joy at the point when he wakesup to know he can still lead a good life).
Does this all sound crazy?!
PS (and that "joy" doesn't mean we inflict it on others but that we can channel it into compassion, and that there are different flavours of Christian joy)

Anonymous said...

"but that is not portrayed like this in the Bible"
- actually, perhaps a person with better knowledge of the Bible could make the case / easily make the case there is Tom Bombadil-like joy in the Bible.
But that the focus of the Gospels is often more about the seriousness of God to bring man back to His great Joy (and, yes, there is, also, great Joy in the Second Person in the Trinity, at the heart of the gospels).
APOLOGIES for writing a book! (but wanted to be sure not to say anything misleading)