Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Looking for Joy

joy [dʒɔɪ]n
1. a deep feeling or condition of happiness or contentment

I have been trying to capture images of joy over the past week or so and the task has been more difficult than expected. I have attended three Christmas parties, a Christmas festival, a children's program at church as well as work, home and the usual stops in my week.

Today we are receiving our first winter storm of the season with packing snow and sleet, rain and wind. There are no school cancellations but most children will look out at the white world this morning with delight. Many adults will not as they prepare to commute to work and pull out their snow shovels again.

The first picture was taken in 1963 and my brothers and I are having a good laugh. Perhaps my father was making a silly face or maybe we were giddy because we were allowed to sit on the hood of the car. Children know how to find joy in small things.

Street performers are found in many big cities. In this block of San Francisco we saw a man tap dancing for hours for a donation. Another young musician leaned against a post as he skillfully played a mournful tune on his flute. There were no smiles on their faces. But this quartet attracted attention with their upbeat melody and hand clapping happiness. Their infectious joy brought a smile to more than one person.

Would I find joy in the hospital? There is a palliative care ward here, but no maternity ward. Many patients are waiting for a nursing home bed. Staff and volunteers are hosting Christmas parties on each floor this month complete with turkey, ham and all the trimmings. Families are invited to the meal and musicians from the community provide live entertainment.

I watched one man walk to the dining room on his new prosthetic leg, a big smile on his face. A couple got up and danced to a lively tune. She has premature advanced dementia and her attentive husband's tenderness brought tears to my eyes.

One of my crankiest patients came to the party with two of her daughters. She had a rare smile on her face and wanted to have a picture taken with her family. She looked surprisingly happy and huggable and was so pleased with the shot that she asked for extra copies.

Yes, I did find glimpses of joy, but they were too often hidden by the bustle, busyness and stress of everyday life. It would have been easier to write about the unhappiness I found...

For Remember Whensday I ask, " Where have you found joy?"

The search continues...


  1. This is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing these thoughts and memories. Joy is something that I'm always looking for and try not to lose. Christmas can be so hectic and the real spirit lost. Joy is at the heart of Christmas, born in a manger 1000's of years ago. I seek it with new eyes every Christmas. We have to look around to find it in others and in our own've done a good job of that. Never lose your joy!

  2. This is a beautiful post Ruth. Joy is often easier to find in the faces of children. It is sad that the stress that many adults create smoothers their joy. Yet a simple smile to a stranger may be the best holiday gift ever, and may it be passed on forever. Thanks for the reminder and sharing your joy. :-)

  3. I find joy in small things everwhere. Our toilet was leaking, but so what? to fix it, we got to drive 50 miles through places we had never seen before, got to eat lunch at a new place, and my husband and I laughed the whole time he had his arm up the back of the toilet changing the seal. Joy is where you make it.

  4. Joy can be found in the most unexpected places.I just came from an Aunties funeral,and I saw joy on many faces.Joy,knowing that we would meet again in heaven,joy over memories of the departed Auntie.It was great to see the smiles all around.

  5. I find joy in all the aspects of preparing for Christmas--the whole idea of Advent. Waiting for the coming.

  6. Christmas joy is most for the children.

    For the old people without family, it is so sad. We went to sing carols in rest homes.

  7. The search for're's not easy to find! It's true about children though..they always find pleasure in simple things. That's where I find joy these days, through the eyes of my children...their discoveries and amusements are pure and innocent and new.

  8. I find so much joy in the music of Christmas. We are not in the hustle and bustle of gift buying, and that makes it even more joyful to me.

  9. Well found joy and happiness in different situations.....a lovely post and one that brought a smile to my face......and a tear to my eye....

    Love the first photograph......

  10. Thanks for your comments and for sharing what brings joy into your life.

  11. I think it's quite possible for people to be joyful even though they don't look happy at the moment. perhaps that's semantics though. I'm all in favour of joy.

  12. Surprised by joy! I too have noticed the lack of joy, momentary pleasure maybe but deep seated joy is hard to come across. Contentment is another.

  13. Beautiful, reflective post. Sometimes joy is hard to find, but it's there in a smile, or laughter, or a simple kindness, sometimes in a task well done.
    I saw much joy in the birth of my grandchild last week. The love on the new parents' face expressed a perfect joy.

  14. This is a wonderful post. I like how you ask how we all would find joy. My answer would be in the smiles of those around me rejoicing in the season.

    Thanks for sharing in the Remember Whensday meme. Sorry I am so late in visiting.


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