“…after childhood, we rarely delight in anything. Yet delight, along with gratitude, is the primary religious virtue and is the deepest root of all love, friendship, sexuality, family life, community, passion and enthusiasm. All of these, if they are not to die, must be a constant source of delight.” – Ronald Rolheiser, Against an Infinite Horizon.
1. What THING did I have as a child, that I absolutely loved? This might be a favourite toy, a very special gift, something you cherished and perhaps something you’ve kept to this day.
2. What PLACE did I absolutely love to be, or to go to as a child? The kind of place we’d thrill to hear parents say we were planning to visit soon, or perhaps a place we’d regularly escape to by ourselves. And what did we just love to do there?
3. What PERSON did I love to be with when I was a child? Again, the person I’d be thrilled to hear was coming over; a favourite Aunt or Uncle, or maybe simply my “best friend” when I was growing up.
What memories, and what thoughts go through your head as you recall these things now? How animated we might be if we were to share these with your spouse or a good friend!
Very likely you haven’t thought of these lately, but also very likely you can also feel a stirring smile, perhaps even a bit of giddy delight, or at least nostalgia, as you recall the excitement you had with that thing, at that place, or with that person.
Now. What is that THING, where is that PLACE, and who is that PERSON in your life today?
Rolheiser suggests that after childhood, we rarely delight in anything. We can feel the truth of this can we not? Our days (daze?) can feel like a litany of tasks to complete, difficulties to overcome, routines to fulfill, expectations to meet, and perhaps even painful experiences and emotions to endure. Delight? Perhaps we feel too old to even try.
But… perhaps we can try again…
Might that person you delight in even be your spouse? Can you imagine rediscovering and reinvigorating passions in things, in special places, and most importantly in friendship?
Here’s a thought-provoking invitation to rediscover joy, from the Canadian writer, Mike Mason…
“In my experiment I was committed to uncovering the deep wells of joy in my life. Such wells are not always readily identified. One must search for them as for rare wildlife in a jungle.
Unless we define for ourselves the specific, personal ways we experience joy and deliberately make room for these pleasures, happiness will escape us…
To recover joy, it may be necessary to treat her like a casual acquaintance with whom one wishes to become good friends. She truly is like a person, having her particular character and tastes. If we don’t know her well, isn’t it because we’ve spurned her company, crowding our days with lesser companions? How might we go about befriending joy?” – “Champagne for the Soul” by Mike Mason.
You might still be thinking about that thing, person and place from your childhood. A wonderful memory not only of who we were, but perhaps who we truly are.
How might you these days, once again “become good friends” with joy, with passion, with delight?
Start simply with considering, for the coming week, a thing, a place and a person in whom you might practice gratitude and delight. It might be something remarkably simple!
Perhaps also ask your spouse what their three things were from their childhood. Tell them what you can remember, and then consider together what your lists might be for the coming week.