Recently my dear friend Natalie from Chicago came for a quick visit, as she was back home for her grandmother’s funeral. Her presence was like a sweet breeze from the Windy City. She brought a little pot of cheerful daffodils to brighten my table. I got florally spoiled! It was a gift to be able to see her, and have a heart-to-heart talk while the kids played at the park. A moment of happiness I will cherish for a long time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness lately, and how necessary it is to choose it. Not just as a lifetime hope, but moment to moment. Choosing to embrace each good moment that comes, choosing to smile, to dance with the kids, to laugh when they tell me funny little things, to savour each time they hug or play together well. Tonight we had homemade pizza. “We’re having a nice lifetime,” said my four year old,”This is the best pizza ever!”
I have to see each of these moments as gifts, despite the underlying ache for my little lost daughter, who is busy painting Heaven’s clouds pink with her rosy cheeks. She would want me to be a happy mother who is present to her children, who is affectionate and fun, who is able to enjoy her children and to apologize when she loses her cool.
We can choose to see life as meaningful gift, painful but precious, or as a terrible burden, fraught with danger. But how would the latter help us? To be paralyzed by fear is to refuse to live. And we must live and love, even as the sun must rise, because that’s what we’re meant to do.
Who among us is without pain? We have all suffered in one way or another…
Yet we still have the ability to choose happiness. The longing in our hearts for truth, goodness and beauty is there because those things exist, and we are meant to possess them.
“The essence of greatness is having the heart of a child,” quoted James Stenson in a parenting talk. I think this is also a choice: to let sadness wither you up and go grey inside, letting yourself become even internally old, or to choose youth—hope, joy, simplicity, trust, laughter—for to embrace life is to be young.
This is not a choice we make only once, for we are so changeable, like the shadows of leaves dancing on a windy day…it is a choice we have to make again and again, every time an opportunity comes to enjoy life, to be silly, to dance, to relish a conversation with a dear friend, to bask in the sunlight that pours down on us.
If we refuse the joy of those moments, because the pain of deep old scars that still throb, we are being like the child who refuses to get over her tantrum because one toy broke, even when she is offered many others. It’s really easy to be that kind of child, but we have to remember the resilience of children who seek joy in each new day, who get excited about little things, who are easily pleased by small shows of affection.
All the daily blessings we receive, all of those good moments, are caresses from God’s hands, and a sign that He is with us, despite life’s struggles. Say yes to them. Say yes to Him. Say thank you. We are in bigger, better hands than our own, and only in them can we truly live as children who know how to trust and rejoice, despite the tears that also come.
As I’m trying to take my own advice, here’s some photo’s of me being a kid on my retreat at Loon Lake, climbing about in the woods and getting wet pulling a raft across the lake. Felt like I was 12 again. Was great!