Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Restoring Joy

On my way to worship, I came across this praise.
It's no secret that I'm given to some melancholy now and again. Maybe more now than again. Eeyore.

Oh, bother.

So, joy is not my natural state. I do have, however, moments in a week, little cracks in my Eeyore-ness that keep me going.

One such thing is the number of flowers I come across regularly as I walk about Houston. This past Sunday, as I walked the few blocks from bus stop to church, I came across some beautiful flowers, which I've since learned are called duranta. Deeply purple, they seemed to sing out with their color. I took a picture of it with my phone and posted it to my Facebook wall with the words, "On my way to worship, I came across this praise."

They were, indeed, a botanical alleluia.

There are terrible and scary things in the world. Terror, brutality, political maneuvering, war, disease. The list of more specific things that trouble me just this moment is impossible to complete and so I won't start it.

And still I believe in joy. Praise. Love. Despite all the ways I fail in them and yet I believe in them.

Which brings my ping-pongy mind to Psalm 51, particularly this petition of the psalmist:

Restore to me the joy of your salvation . . . 

It's a penitential psalm, full of confession and remorse, but the psalmist knows joy is possible and it may be found in God's salvation, in the deliverance and restoration God brings.

Which is full of words that need unpacking, but not just this moment.

What I think I want to get at here is this: Praise, joy, alleluias---these are practices as much as feelings. There is always much work to be done in the world and it will wear you down like a drip on sandstone. There is time for worry, particularly if it moves us to action, but we needn't be washed completely away by it.

In all things, we are to give thanks, St Paul told us. We always forget.

Occasionally, there's some deep purple duranta to remind us.

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