...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Joy is Possible Wherever You Are on the Journey

Last week, January 6, or Epiphany, marks the culmination of the kings’ long journey from the East, their long-awaited arrival at Bethlehem, at the child Jesus’ house. When the star finally stopped, the narrative in Matthew 2 notes that these wise ones were “filled with joy.” It's too easy to completely miss joy at this point in the narrative and maybe at this point in January, 2011.

There’s a certain relief in finishing anything. But the text clearly states that the outcome of the trip was one of joy as the travelers were finally able to present their gifts to the boy king. This has helped to assess things spiritually at least. How did December go? Was there something life-giving in it? Did I receive any of the peace and love and joy that I wished others and also sang, taught, prayed, and talked about over the last month?

It is God’s joy in us, an overabundance of it, that moves us toward joy. Authentic joy is our birthright as beloved children of God. It's too easy to miss the result of the journey. Part of the journey is receiving joy. Or at least, agreeing with God. And if whatever spiritual practice we’re observing isn’t bearing this fruit, maybe it's time to discover something that can help us move closer in the direction of joy.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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