images-3It was an ordinary grey morning, typical December in Vancouver.  I was at the breakfast table, looking out the window at the red beech, now bare of all leaves.  And suddenly, softly, unexpectedly, I teared up.  I was surprised and touched by the sweet preciousness of being alive — the wonder of it, the mystery, the gift.

It’s true that I am safe, comfortable, healthy… (the list of my good fortune is long), and I am also grateful.

Still, that’s not what this note is about.  I want to address the sweet and wonderful way we can be moved and uplifted, as if by surprise.  They are like discoverUnknownies of joy, one could say.

I remember several such occasions: I was on the bus, and a little boy got on with an adult, and instead of safely sitting next to his grandpa, Gabo (for that turned out to be his name), scrambled up on the free seat beside me.  Confidently and with ease.  I was surprised by joy!  We had an ongoing conversation for the duration of our ride together.   My heart still sings from this encounter.

A week or so ago, again it was dark and damp, I had occasion to go through the lobby of our high rise apartment building.  All of a sudden, totally unexpectedly, I was moved to tears…by happiness, feeling pleasure and gratitude for the wonderful community we have created in our building, for the beauty of the season…  There were soft Christmas lights in the otherwise empty lobby, and whoosh — it hit me!  My heart opened, and I was moved and touched.

IMG_6844I adore such moments!  Here, for your consideration, is a short excerpt from a piece in The New Yorker, by Amanda Petrusich, writing about Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans-based songwriter, pianist, and bandleader, who passed away recently.   It’s titled The True Gladness of Allen Toussaint…

Toussaint offers his philosophy of life :  “Joy and discovery, dude.”  

And Petrusich writes,  “It’s somehow one of the most profound bits of advice I’ve ever received. It’s not even advice, really: it’s a suggested worldview, a mode of navigation, a pair of aspirational, symbiotic attributes that we’d all do well to recalibrate ourselves around.    *****

It’s easy—nearly satisfying—to think of pain as transformative. But Toussaint’s work suggests a different way. Joy can change us, too—that’s evident in his songs. See something miraculous, and watch yourself reappear on the other side, different, better. There is so much gratitude in this music: a true gladness. What a thing to hold in mind. What a thing to let yourself follow, all the way down to the grave.”

As the time of holiday rush and bustle comes closer, I want to remind myself, by offering to you, the possiblity of being open to such moments, as soft and subtle as they sometimes are.…Open to inviting, noticing them, letting our soul and spirit be surprised and touched, by discovering joy!

Blessings to you and yours, with warm wishes for a wonderful holiday season, however you spend and celebrate it.   Your comments are, as always, most welcome.images-2

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Follow me on Twitter, let’s be friends on Facebook :-)


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