I Choose Joy

Yesterday, was one of those special days that could not have been planned. And perhaps it was such a good day, because I chose to experience joy!

Twenty-nine years ago on the first of June, my son was born, who just happened to turn 29 himself. I looked forward to having dinner with him and his girlfriend later in the day.

But in the morning, I drove to a dear friend's house, to pick her up and head out to her church to hear her own gifted child sing. This lovely young woman studies music in college and I've had the privilege to see her evolve musically during the last decade.

Just as I turned into my friend's driveway, I noticed the clock turned 10:17. This was the exact time my son was born, 29 years to the very minute! And the radio was playing a musical piece by Suzanne Ciani, titled "Mother's Song," that I had first heard in the 80's in a documentary about Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Later on, during my drive home, I marveled at these beautiful signs sent from above, on a day I got to spend with my two favorite young persons! Having been a liturgical musician myself in college, it was such a joy to listen to my friend's daughter do her solo.

During the drive to church, I had shared with my friend a difficulty I had experienced recently. Ironically, it occurred on another drive to church fraught with unsettling experiences. I told my friend that by the time I arrived at church, I was so unsettled, I had difficulty participating in the service, but that at some point I decided I could choose my response. I could either allow the whole service to feel ruined, or I could begin again.

And so, I chose joy...

Within moments, I did my best to sing the songs, though I had arrived so late all the programs were gone and I had to sit up in the rafters so to speak - really an upper balcony, where it was difficult for me to see. Yet I decided to set all those experiences aside and enter fully into the moment. I chose to be present. 

It turns out, this was no ordinary liturgy. The bishop had come to preside over a confirmation, and I marveled that I had not attended one since my own son's confirmation 14 years ago! I watched each individual come up to be sealed with the Spirit.

Earlier that morning, I had attended a talk by a very prominent Jesuit, Fr. James Martin, SJ, who came to address a very packed church about his newest work, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, which examines certain Gospel stories in light of the landscape and topography of the land. Having just been to Israel recently, I found myself nodding at all his descriptions. I drank his every word.

I chose joy...

Life is filled with difficulty. And challenges. But we don't have to let an experience or a series of them invalidate the rest of our day. We can stop. We can say to ourselves - just for today and everyday - or at least in this moment:

I choose joy!


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