My favorite time of year has always been Thanksgiving. For a major part of my life I have always found this holiday to be one of the most sacred to me, because of the ability it gives me to reflect on the spiritual giant “Gratitude”. I am so impressed how something as simple as expressing gratitude has the ability to unleash such tremendous power: power over prejudice, over jealousy, over dishonesty, over ignorance and even over hate. Recently we experienced a tremendous act of violence directly related to hate, where over 100 innocent people were murdered in the name of God. Unfortunately these crimes occur far too often in many countries around the world. I am saddened by such acts and am sure millions around our planet are feeling the same. I can only imagine the God I believe in, a God of love, is so sad to see such behaviors amongst humanity, and even worse, in His name. This letter is not about terror but rather the opposite. Even in such terrible chaos I believe we can find an inner peace, even a joy.
This is a word that I have contemplated a lot lately: “JOY”. There is a well-known scripture found in the Book of Mormon that says “all things have been done in the wisdom of him that knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy” 2 Nephi 2:24-25. This passage continues to teach that we cannot experience true joy if we have not experienced misery.
My understanding of Joy is that it is an emotion much deeper than pleasure or happiness, it is the ability to be present, more of a deep spiritual emotion. Pleasure is sometimes misleading. By definition it means, “worldly or frivolous enjoyment”. I personally don’t believe we are to live in a constant state of pleasure. Otherwise we would never learn the important lessons in life. These sensations of pleasure can be great but usually not as a constant state. I believe joy comes from a deep alignment between the body, mind and spirit. When we know we are aligned in ourselves and with our higher source, we experience joy, even when life gives us lemons. If we understand that there is a purpose to everything, even in tragedy and loss, we are capable of experiencing joy.
One of life’s great lessons came in my father’s passing. My father was my best friend, and 13 years ago this February he passed away. He was only 69 years old. I remember feeling his absence in my life on a daily basis and at times I would spontaneously feel sad when I longed to share something exciting with him or had a question for which I needed a sounding board. One day as I was missing him and pondering his absence in my life, I realized that he was all around me, he was in my speech, my thoughts and according to Lizette and my mom, even in the way I walk. He is my guardian angel. I now feel joy when I think of my dad, a sure knowledge that he is always with me, that someday I will go that way, cross the veil and be reunited with him. This brings me true joy.
This Thanksgiving, it is my wish that we all take a moment and turn off the news, put down the newspaper and reflect on all the people that have made a profound impact in our lives. Express the gratitude that so powerfully overcomes sadness, fear and hate and allows our bodies, minds and spirits to feel joy; “JOY” knowing who we are, what we want and what our purpose in life is; “JOY” by being aligned with God and the universe. Joy spending time with the ones we love and enjoying gifts that those who have passed have left behind for us and those alive are still giving.
May God bless each of us with inner peace, with the ability to be totally present and express gratitude for the simple and precious things that each of us possess; the non-tangible, the things no one can take away. Maybe that is the true definition of Joy, things that bring hope and peace that no one can take away.