Sitting with The Mother’s Wisdom Deck face down in front of me, I called up a card that could speak to my life in this moment. Joy is what surfaced. Hallelujah!

Detail of Joy from The Mother’s Wisdom Deck

Though I have abundant joy in my life and take pleasure in my days, I don’t think of myself as an especially joyful person. I relish meaning and depth too much to let the pursuit of happiness occlude my experience of the full range of emotions. I can be broody and moody. A friend’s sadness feels like my own. I am a triple cancer. Need I say more?

Yet, it is true, I am undeniably cheerful of late. Spring has come early. My daughter and I have daily treasure hunts to uncover the crocuses buried by our chickens as they scratch and fling the garden mulch. The days are getting longer and our skin is sun kissed again as we shed the winter layers. Emerging from dark times of year or in life, it is simple pleasures like these that contain the seeds of joy.

Pulling the Joy card is an invitation to water these seeds; to give them at least as much love and attention as I give everything else in my life. Children arrive with the innate wisdom of pure unadulterated joy. I notice that they focus almost exclusively on the things that delight them: spinning on a swing, giggling with a friend, hanging upside down, eating strawberries. When I follow their lead, I follow my bliss.

Lest I get too carried away in my pursuit of pleasure, some small crisis like a skinned knee or a dirt-encrusted popsicle inevitably drops in. But sometimes it is just not convenient to hit pause in my play in order to mitigate the meltdown. When I mistakenly try to squelch this expression, it only gets louder, needier. On the verge of being consumed by my own bottled up frustration, disappointment, and resentment, I take a deep breath, rewind, and invite this new arrival in with a grateful nod toward Rumi’s indelible lines from The Guest House:

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

(from The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks)

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