"Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
We often talk of crying ourselves to sleep. Rarely, if ever, have I heard anyone talk of laughing themselves to sleep. In the evening, our defenses our down, the weight of things easily overwhelms. There is no more doing and that can undo us.
"But joy comes with the morning." Daybreak is equated with the dawning of joy. I love that image. There is no holding back the dawning of a new day. It comes without our beckoning. It is not delayed by our denial of it. It's up to us to receive it as new and open with possibility and not simply or only the extension of the day before. Darkness gives way to light.
In her chapter for today, Sister Joan talks about of how the experience of joy is a possibility not a given for those in or approaching their retirement years. She talks about the struggle live beyond the habit of equating fulfillment with the fulfilling of "expectations and deadlines, pressures and responsibilities, schedules and public activities." She talks about the importance of getting beyond "the bitterness of having been displaced, and to not see that being moved quietly off all the platforms of life is also to be free of the stagecraft that goes with them." Amen to that.
A key dynamic of joy, according to Sister Joan, is to embrace the freedom that the absence of external demands of work and occupation brings. In effect, she seems to be saying that those years should feel less like evening and more like morning--like waking up to a new day that is not encumbered with demand.
I like that image. But it seems if that is to be possible, then it must be our habit. We can't expect to wake up on day one of "retirement" and be surprised by joy.
Morning is free. It's quiet. It's fresh. It happens everyday. Don't pick up the phone or check the email or turn on the T.V. Live into that newness. Brew the coffee. Linger in the profound newness of the morning. Say a prayer of gratitude...for me, it's always the Lord's Prayer.
I can't think of a better way to be surprised by joy as we approach the evening of our live.