I have wanted to write a post on the difference between happiness and joy. As I sat here and tried, none of the words seem to fit. Then it dawned on me that I replied earlier today in an email to a priest friend the words that start in the right direction. In reply to how things were going, I wrote:
Spirituality, I’m in a good place, I think. The days have been up and down. On some days, I am aware of a quiet center inside. And when I am still, I can sense joy there even if I’m in a bad or sad mood. Some days I don’t sense this quiet center, but I am not worried about it, or frantic about getting back to it (although there are at times a tiny (sometimes big) voice trying to persuade me that I should be upset about it). I just give thanks when it’s there, and I give thanks for when it is not. Somewhere else inside me knows that God is still there even if I can’t sense it. The trick is to not forget that, and not worry about it. I find my self every now and then giving a little giggle at something that I find funny or surprising, just like my four and six year old boys.
The trick is not to forget it. Every morning when I wake up, I turn my heart towards God, sometimes with many words in prayer, sometimes only a few, many times with just one. God is there. I do not feel His presence or anything like that, but I know He is there. I trust in Him. And I try to adjust my attitude that all is gift, all is His, everything belongs. An attitude of gratitude orients one to receive the grace of joy if given.
I try to remember to keep orienting myself toward God during the day. Some days it is easy. Some days I just seem to wonder back and forth, aimless in a way. I used to make myself upset over forgetting, but I eventually learned that was my perfectionist side of my ego trying distract my attention from God onto myself. Now I just try to re-orient myself toward God and go on.
Trying not to forget. That seems to be the trick—not to forget. Maybe that is why some Catholics (and Orthodox) have all those religious items like crucifixes, statues, icons and candles spread out all over the place. It is to remember.
O Father, please keep reminding me to keep facing toward You.