This, the third week of advent, is about Joy.
As of today, I have had chronic headaches for exactly 43 months! (I know right. Happy Month-A-Versary. I'm making a cheese platter)
Aside from a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes without head pain, I have ached for that entire time.
I've heard people say things like happiness is a fleeting emotion and joy is eternal. And I've heard the bible say "be joyful always" but how? especially when you hurt. and very especially when you hurt then someone cuts you off in traffic.
But this week is the week of advent where I meditate on JOY. So I thought I'd at least give it a bit of a try, because I take advent very seriously.
So I dusted off some old books I read about coping with pain, and one of them suggests a useful exercise. It says to lay or sit comfortably in a quiet place. (dim the lights if it helps, but don't fall asleep just yet). Then take your thoughts to a time when you were really happy. Imagine as many details of that place as you can. The color of the sky, the feel of the ground, the smells, the taste of what you ate. Slow down every moment until you can start to draw out these details. What do you hear in the background? What is happening around you?
And then something quite nice happens - you start to tap into that happiness from your memory. I'm not kidding, you feel joy. (and for those of you in pain out there, some of it lifts. not all, but some. for me it's enough catch my breath again... and for those of you with memory problems, this helps with that too)
While some of my most peaceful and happy times are simple, un-pictured moments, there are a few that I that I can share....
this day I spent in the middle of the serengeti
and the dark hike to see a sunrise in arizona
and so many evenings in this darling place, the zoo
long dinners on the long island sound
a leisurely horseback ride in peru
a beautiful honeymoon morning
and a day I was stronger than I though I could be
See that, visual proof that I've been blessed with the sweet life (and that's not leaving out 1,300 days of pain). I hope you sift through your memories too.. really go through the details of them. There is joy there.