As I mentioned yesterday, I had the great opportunity this weekend to co-facilitate the annual Women’s retreat for First Congregational Church of Oshkosh. The theme this year was “Embracing Joy.” What we explored this weekend is the Divine invitation to live in joy and the interior barriers to accepting and embracing this invitation.
Joy, is part of our true nature and is God’s greatest desire for us. Unfortunately, most of us remain in the false perception of separation from God and therefore find the attainment of joy a struggle. Living in the false sense of separation, we perceive joy to be outside of us and therefore something that can only be achieved when we “have the right things, reach our goals, become famous, powerful or wealthy.” As Dr. Jennifer Norden informed us, science has shown us that this is not the case. Thanks to the work of Martin Seligman, PhD, (author of Authentic Happiness) we now have the science to back up what spiritual leaders have been telling us for thousands of years. Joy is not determined by our external circumstances but is in fact an interior quality.
What spiritual teachers have shown us about joy is that it resides within and can be cultivated through diligent spiritual practice. As Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11) Jesus, along with other spiritual masters, came as way-showers. These teachers came to remind us of our Oneness with God and with one another and demonstrated spiritual practices that facilitate this remembering. It is in embracing these practices that we are freed of the interior blocks to remembering joy and drawn into a deeper and more profound recollection of Oneness. As we remember our original state as One, the peace, love and joy that are our original nature blossoms within us like a lotus unfolding to reveal its magnificent beauty.
So for today, I invite you to contemplate the idea of joy. Can you accept that joy is your original nature? Do you recognize the fears and false perceptions within yourself that may be blocking your ability to remember this joy? Have you found the spiritual practice that speaks to you today and have you made the commitment to tending to this practice on a regular basis? Joy is within you, just waiting to emerge. Can you allow it to blossom?