Friday, February 13, 2009


I have been trying to think through this idea of delight and our best response to it. It came up here. Also, it comes into Liam's senior thesis, so that brought it to my mind again when he sent me a part of his thesis last week to read. And I see it came up here, in It is possible that God says every day "Do it again" to the sun, when I was blogging in response to some posts of Melissa's, especially "Every Face I Look at Seems Beautiful" (I love just looking at that post title).

I wrote then, and am bringing it up again because it seems relevant to what I'm trying to bring out:

Too often, I "serve my time" and endure what ought to be a delight. Thereby I lose the privilege of drawing closer to what I am intended to be. Thereby I close myself into a little box, limiting myself to finding delight in what I naturally have a preference for.
And Leonie asked about our February Challenge, so I have been thinking about that too. Keeping in mind what I learned from my January Challenge, and especially considering that Lent is starting soon, I wanted to think a bit through the balance between challenge and rest, between fast and feast, between blessing and bearing, between delight and desolation. What's the differential? : ) Where ought I to set my sights? "Upon the hills" -- it's obvious, but what does that come down to, or raise up to? Stephanie wrote in my comment box:

If my earthly father freely gave us the money to finish our house - just poof! made a gift of about a half a million dollars or something - and then there I sat, in the house of my dreams, would my next move be to complain about maintenance? Worry about overindulging in enjoyment? Or ... would it show proper gratitude to do maintenance with joy - and put out fresh flowers with joy - and just sit in it and breathe - with joy! Life as we know it IS "two desserts a day

...I just think it's crummy to take the gifts of Love Himself, and then fuss over them like some kind of fretful spoiled rotten lady of the house who doesn't know if that priceless vase "goes" with her carefully matched suite of furniture. --- Or being presented with a banquet of exquisite foods and then saying "oh, no - I couldn't." --- It's just not that complicated to "come as a child," laugh when things delight, cry when there is pain, fast for the good of your self-control and feast for the celebration of bountiful Love. It's just not that complicated!
This seems to evoke (beautifully) what I am trying to get at, too. It's probably no accident that the time I felt the most joyous about the tiniest things -- a walk with my husband to get a latte at the nearby bookstore, a cuddle with my precious 3 year old, an infant hand reaching to clasp my finger -- was when we were hanging, minute by minute, at an intensive care unit waiting to see if my inestimably dear infant would live or die. Life somehow became a a trickle of moments that were like treasures, and the pain, which was intense, didn't take that away in the least.

I don't think there is a reason why I shouldn't be able to keep that joy in regular life.... except that so often, I don't. It shows up in contrast to pain. When I'm comfortable, it's easy almost to get cluttered in my soul and start "being troubled by many things".

This reminds me, for some reason, of this post, which I liked very much, at Poiema Portfolio:
Thrift as a Strategy

The words "thrifty" and "frugal" can both be traced to root words that suggest healthy growth. "Thrift" is related to "thrive" as in a thriving plant; and "frugal" has a Latin root that is equivalent to "fruitful". Both words have very positive connotations and yet to many (maybe most) people they conjure up mental pictures of boring old misers.
I think perhaps we can choose to treasure the things around us and that if I have trouble doing this in my regular life, perhaps it's because I'm somehow looking past all the treasures.

It goes back to seeing beauty in what is around me. I suppose to be honest I worry that if I focus too much on what is good around me I will forget to work on what is not so good. I read somewhere, though, that this tends not to be really so in practice. Perhaps it's a bit like when I cleaned my house the other day. Seeing it looking so (relatively) beautiful, I wanted to preserve and maintain that beauty. It woke a love in me that I didn't have when I didn't see its beauty.

Closing this muddled post now -- these are some things I'm trying to think through for this Lent, so I hope you can bear with it!


Poiema said...

What a lovely, insightful post. You have blessed me today.

Katie said...

I love watching you think through things. I wonder if this quote from Volume 4 on sympathy relates to your ideas of delight? (I was extremely struck with the idea that we sympathize with all that is base when we assume ill of a person, whereas we sympathize with all that is noble when we assume those qualities exist in the person.)

"Sympathy is an eye to discern, a lever to raise, an arm to sustain. The service to the world that has been done by the great thinkers––the poets and the artists––and by the great doers––the heroes––is, that they have put out feelers, as it were, for our Sympathy. A picture or poem, or the story of a noble deed, 'finds' us, we say. We, too, think that thought or live in that action, and, immediately, we are elevated and sustained. This is the sympathy we owe to our fellows, near and far off. If we have anything good to give, let us give it, knowing with certainty that they will respond. If we fail to give this Sympathy, if we regard the people about us as thinking small, unworthy thoughts, doing mean, unworthy actions, and incapable of better things, we reap our reward. We are really, though we are not aware of it, giving Sympathy to all that is base in others, and thus strengthening and increasing their baseness: at the same time we are shutting ourselves into habits of hard and narrow thinking and living."

from CM Volume 4 Book 1 page 95-98