jump to navigation

RevGalBlogPals Friday Five: Surprised by Joy April 20, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Friday Fives.

Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”
He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. (John 21:5-7)

Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5b)

This week I’ve been watching parents of the young people slain at Virgina Tech trying to make meaning out of the lives of their lost children, and each one seems to begin by focusing on something joyful about that child. It’s a gift that most humans have brains wired to respond in that way. For some of us it can be harder to work our way out of dark places, but I believe joy remains the key. It is the spirit of resurrection.

Tell us about five people, places, or things that have brought surprising, healing joy into your life.


1. Love brings me joy. I love being in love, and all the stages of affection, friendship, and infatuation that lead to it and from it – and it is surprising every single time how good it feels! There is nothing more joyful to me than looking upon the faces of the ones I love, or hearing their voices on the phone, or reading messages they have sent. I have been blessed to experience so many different kinds of love: desperate, dangerous, quiet, steady, adoring, admiring, regretful, sorrowful, and welcoming. I wouldn’t know how to love or to receive love if not for the experience of every single one of these. There is the giddy and scared love I felt when my husband and I ran back up the aisle of the church after we got married and clung to each other for dear life out in the nave, the amazed and anxious love I felt when my daughter was placed on my belly after I gave birth, and the frightened love that I felt when I heard my son’s collarbone snap as he was being born (he had WIDE shoulders), the amused love that fills my mom’s voice when she remembers the things I did as a small child, the exploding stars in my eyes of a desperate infatuation (or two…), the calm assurance of a steady gaze in the eyes of a friend when I am freaking out about one thing or another (as I often tend to do), and the loving forgiveness that is extended to me after I have said or done something stupid or hurtful.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for God is Love, and everyone that loves is born of love and knows love.” 1 John 4: 7-8

2. Books bring me joy. I was reading well by the time I was 3 or 4, and I learned very early on that I could use my imagination to send myself to the places I read about. I had a hard time separating myself from my books, and while other kids got in trouble for talking, I got in trouble for reading while the teacher was talking! Books were my friends during the painfully shy early years of my life. At first, I just liked good stories, and then I discovered that I was empathizing with the main characters in young adult coming of age stories like Bridge to Terabithia , Jacob Have I Loved, and Summer of My German Soldier, books which turned me into a fairly introspective type who began to feel a little different from everyone else. I got to college and discovered Kurt Vonnegut and Douglas Coupland, and then became interested in non-fiction and spiritual writers and poets. Recently, I embarked on a little project where I re-read the entire Dr. Seuss collection, some children’s classics like Stella Luna and I’ll Love You for Always and Where the Wild Things Are, as well as all the Newberry Medal winners from 1980 – 1989. I will never understand people who don’t read.

3. Music brings me joy. Despite being given albums by Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, and Alabama, I took a different path when I discovered Depeche Mode at the age of 10 after seeing the “People Are People” video on MTV. After that, I was happily surprised by every new musical discovery. When I was 13, Erasure’s “Chorus” was released, and when I was 14, the daughter of one of my mom’s friends made me taped copies of The Cure’s “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me” and “Disintegration”. The next discovery was The Violent Femmes, and then Gene Loves Jezebel. I liked some of the mainstream rock, too – INXS’s “Need You Tonight” and “Never Tear Us Apart” were big faves, and I loved U2. After that came Joy Division, The Ramones, and Henry Rollins, and some Skinny Puppy, Sex Pistols, and Bauhaus stuff that really scared my sister (with whom I shared a room). As I entered my late teens and then college, I decided that I liked music I could sing with, and I started listening to country (but only when I was alone!). I went back to the 80’s and rediscovered dance and pop music, but I also like the rebellious themes and dizzying guitars in 90’s bands like Veruca Salt. Then came violins and cellos: Switchblade Symphony and Rasputina. I discovered music to chill out to, like Sunny Day Real Estate, Mazzy Star, and Morcheeba – they were good study tunes. A good friend got me hooked on southern rock like The Black Crowes, and another friend got me hooked on This Mortal Coil. These days, I love listening to all of the above, and I throw in the random CD’s that I buy at Renaissance faires. The most recent addition to that collection was some rockin’ kilt-wearing boys who call themselves Needfire and a CD of some really dirty drinking songs by Queen’s Gambit. Music makes me happy.

4. Sacraments bring me surprising joy, and I say that because I can’t articulate completely what they mean to me or what I receive from them – I just know they are important. I know there is some debate between Catholics and Protestants about what constitutes a sacrament…I grew up being taught there were 7, and later learned Protestants only recognize 2. Though I’ve chosen in my adulthood to worship in a different faith than the one of my childhood, I’ve held on to the notion of 7 sacraments. Aside from my Baptism as a baby, I have very, very clear memories of the others that I have received. When I think back to my Reconciliation and First Communion, I can still remember Fr. Snyder’s smile and how scared I was of Fr. Pizmoh. When my 7 year old friends and I were preparing for First Communion in 2nd grade, I always got to play priest. The reason for this was because I was the one who discovered how to tear the crusts off white bread and smush it all together in a ball and then cut out small wafer sized pieces for practice. Why the need to practice? Because the instinct is to chew whatever goes in your mouth, and you CAN’T CHEW JESUS. I’ve heard that the Catholic Church has backed off the “no chewing” policy, but that’s what I was told when we were preparing. Then I had another experience where I got to be priest, except this time I was 27 and was getting married. I shared the Eucharist with my husband because he wasn’t Catholic and it was our little “work around” the rules. I do remember feeling gypped after my First Communion, knowing that I wasn’t going to get to partake of another sacrament until I was confirmed, which I was told would happen in high school – and that was 9 years away, a time frame that didn’t really register with me except that it was a long, long time away. My Confirmation was a pretty joyous moment, because I opted out of it when I was 16 and everyone else was being confirmed because their parents wanted them to, so it was just what you did. I waited until I was 20, and 7 and a half years later when I was received into The Episcopal Church, I experienced an even greater joy that this, THIS, I was sharing with a new family of my own creation. Marriage, of course, was a biggie, as was the first time I was told I could receive the Sacrament of Healing when I felt broken, not just when I was dying. That last one I have taken advantage of often, and it always helps knit me back together.

5. Road trips bring me joy. I love to drive – always have, since I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 20. I love the way the road winds in front of me endlessly, and even when I have driven a particular stretch of road so many time I feel sure I could do it with my eyes closed, I almost always see something that surprises me. The hum of the road under the wheels, the sound of the rushing wind, the smell of my burning cigarette, the songs on the stereo that make me cry and laugh, the nervous anticipation about what awaits me at the end of my trip if I am going somewhere I’ve never been, maps folded wrong and thrown in the passenger seat, photographs taken, food eaten, new friends, old friends, and the relief of returning home at the end of it all.

“I left the North again, I traveled South again…” – The Smiths


best…gift…ever April 14, 2007

Posted by introspectreangel in Boy-o, life.
1 comment so far

I had posted recently about how I was starting to feel somewhat disoriented from not having seen a beach or the ocean in several years, so I took a few days off work after Easter and took my son down to Port Aransas to dig in the sand for his birthday. We decided to try camping on the beach, since we’re trying to save money for our upcoming vacation to Missouri in June, and beach camping was FREE…but for the first day at least, the weather didn’t cooperate with my plans. The very minute I had our small, two person tent set up, the skies opened up and RAIN began to fall. Not being the tough outdoorswoman that my little sister is, we packed it in and went to a hotel…with nice soft pillows and lovely crisp sheets and we went and ate some yummy fish at a restaurant with crayons and coloring papers.

The weather cleared up the next day, so I set up the tent again and the boy and I had a wonderful day digging in the sand and picking up seashells. Truth to tell, I was more than a little nervous about spending all day on the beach, only because I am well aware that I say I crave leisure time, but don’t do so well with it in reality. We dug a pretty considerable moat and Boy-o claimed the piles of resulting sand for Captain Feathersword with his pirate flag. He saw some kids down the beach a little ways playing in the water and wanted to try that, but when he felt how cold it was he attached himself to my leg and started screaming to go “back to the sand, Mama!” That evening, my friend Kyle came out to our little tent to hang out. He came bearing presents – mostly a few little trinkets and toys that he had given me before and I had packed up and sent back to him years ago when I was in a snit about a few things (and I was very glad to get them back!), but he had a new present as well. Behold, the MAGIC BOX!

Years ago, I had a thing for the Magic 8 Ball – you know, that old toy where you would ask a question, shake the ball, and it would give you some vague yes or no answer. For a novelty toy, I probably consulted mine for advice more than was reasonable, but no one has said I knew what the heck was going on in my head back then. One of my online alter egos was “Modern Angel”, after a Front 242 song, and Kyle loved to point out that consulting a Magic 8 Ball was not exactly modern, nor was it a utilization of current technology. So, he made me something far better. When you open this little painted box and press the button on the back, you get wisdom far better than the 8 Ball’s inscrutable “Outlook good” or “It is likely”. There is a small screen inside that displays a saying…sometimes it is a well known cliche, and sometimes not, but I’ve been playing with the thing since he gave it to me on Tuesday and I have yet to get the same bit of advice twice.

Last night, I knew my husband wasn’t going to be home until late because he was out gaming, and so I decided that I would clean house. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was in a bad state – remember, I had just come home from the beach, and I had simply dragged everything out of my car and onto the living room floor, bringing sand and the smell of shrimp and sunscreen with it. Furthermore, all the toys our son had received at his birthday party on Saturday had just been thrown into the middle of his room, and we had baskets and baskets of laundry and dishes to get done. It was a mite depressing, but I vowed to clean it all. Like many though, my enthusiasm for such a project wanes part of the way into it, and minutes after I had walked out of the store armed with cleaning supplies, I was already bargaining with myself – “okay, I’ll just clean the public areas (living room and kitchen) of the house, the bedrooms and bathrooms can wait. Thoroughly discouraged at my inability to follow through on my goal, I consulted the box:

“Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

What??!! Stupid box! It knows I have to clean!! I AM IN CONTROL HERE! I WILL VANQUISH ALL DIRT! This box knows NOTHING!

Immediately, I began questioning my mental state that I was now engaged in an active conflict with the magic box, but the damage was done, and 5 agonizingly back breaking hours later, my house *sparkled*.

Boy-o’s room before…

…and after

at which point I consulted the box again to see what it had to say about all this.

“He who laughs last obviously didn’t get the joke.”