One never knows how God will deliver joy – but at our house, it flutters in on wings of gratitude.
Two days after my sixty-first birthday, I dressed for work in a pair of slender white slacks for my not-so-slender-but-I-can-pretend legs and a longish dark green print tunic (last year’s birthday gift from the Preacher). Tossing a white knit scarf around my neck and over one shoulder, I checked the mirror on the back of the bedroom door, mentally clicked “Like” and walked out.
In the living room, the Preacher, reading in his recliner by the window, watched me enter. As usual, he didn’t speak. But I know those eyes. For forty-one years I’ve read them. Standing beside his chair, I took his hand and said, in my best ‘husband voice’: “Wow, Hon, you look great today! Sixty-one looks really good on you. I’m so glad I married you.”
A ghost of a grin lifted the corners of his mouth. “Yep. All that,” he said. A genuine chuckle broke free.
“Why, thank you, Preacher, that’s so nice of you to tell me that!” I continued. We laughed, and my heart squeezed at our merriness. I recalled the days prior to a decade ago, when his words and laughter slipped out more often than they do now. Before we had to weigh even the smallest decisions on the scales of his pain and fatigue. Before a mosquito passed on West Nile Neurological Disease and the encephalitis that grays out so many days; blacks out long conversation.
But a decade of spontaneous happy moments has taught me to treasure them with deep gratitude. To store them like jewels in the vault of memory. So what, if come evening he may be too tired to stay up past eight, or even seven. To say, “I love you” or hug me good-night? At least I have a merry morning memory.
So that morning, as is our habit most days, we prayed the day in, thanking God for life. For the ability to laugh at ourselves. For our daughter and her family, safely arrived home after a summer of travel. For others beloved, so far from us, but not from God. For our home, our work, our still-wonderful world, created by and cradled in our Father’s hands.
And somewhere in those moments of lightness, of praise and thanks for what-is-now, with an eye to what-is-promised-but-not-yet, I felt deep joy; the kind my faith reminds me that only Jesus can bring.
Jesus-joy has less to do with frequent hilarity than with the stable soul-certainty that even our small moments of delight are gifts of love and kindness from a merciful Father. They shine in the dark, sparkle in the light. Though ours for but a moment, an elusive butterfly on one’s wrist rather than a timepiece securely fastened there; they are ours to cherish nonetheless, and remain forever grateful.
I pray you gratitude. I pray you Jesus-joy.