Little Camino, Day 34! And Then There Is Joy

Keeping my pledge to write thirty-four weekly blog posts on how the Camino continues to impact my life–the same number as the days I walked this pilgrimage.

It is the final blog of this series–and a new one will begin next week (wait for it ; ) But for today I want to remember the moment of completing the pilgrimage we had set out upon.

“As we reached the center of the plaza and turned to see the face of the cathedral, the low clouds parted and rays of sunshine fell down on us. Tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt a new kind of joy that tumbled inside of me and lifted me up off the ground. We had arrived. We hugged. We kissed.We had someone take our picture.” A dream had come true.

Certainly the immediate joy was that the rigor of the journey which we had set for ourselves was over. But there was a joy in knowing that the Camino had started some new work of transformation–work I knew intuitively was the work I wanted to do more deeply in my life as the road led on. And one significant part of that work was allowing more joy into my life.

I just finished a Diamond Approach weekend retreat on Joy two weeks ago. It really is the intention and blessing of this benevolent universe. Yet I came to realize how easy it is to tamp down Joy. If there are so many people suffering, should I have joy? If the planet itself is being taken for granted, is it reasonable to live a joyful life? Can Joy show up in hard places? The answer in this teaching was, “It’s not easy, but it’s possible.”

This essence of Joy has many facets–it it playfulness, lightness, wanting, curiosity, a sense of yellow, a flourishing, an expansion, a spaciousness. Its sacred impulse is “I wish.” That revealed to me how it may be hard to wish for what I want because I’ve been disappointed so many times. Or I still operate under religious teachings that emphasized putting others first and serving their wishes, but not mine. Wishing for what we want, what gives us Joy may be associated with being selfish or with guilt for wanting. Being playful brings up some doubt that I’m acting childish. It’s so interesting to see that essence that I want so much in my life, I doubt and question and don’t trust.

Yet I’ve never forgotten that Jesus said, “I came so that you may have joy and have it abundantly.” Joy is a sacred gift and has a sacred purpose. Can I receive it?

When I reached the end of the Camino, I had so many regrets and sadness about how I walked it. And yet, I had joy a the same time. I think the strange possibility in Joy is that perhaps, with care, we can hold seeming opposites together at the same time. The world can suffer greatly and yet I can find great joy in many ways. I can be playful but also mature. I can be afraid to explore and also be curious to learn what is around the next corner. I can want something selfishly, and I can want something just for pleasure of wanting it and feeling how happy it makes me.

There is the much quoted wisdom of Howard Thurman who said. “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The teacher of this session, John Davis, asked two important questions: “What would it be like to see a person or an experience that you’ve had many times as if it was the first time?” Or “What would it be like if you knew it was the last time?” Could I experience the joy of that moment?

There is a powerful force in Joy that wants to be made manifest in me and in the world. It can break down the clutch of the ego that is afraid of things being “too much”, and let me just be.

As this section of my blog closes, I have a deep joy for all of you who have followed the Little Camino over the past thirty four weeks. Thank you for your support and comments. This Little Camino going forward is too obvious– to let joy be abundant in my life and scatter that beautiful essence wherever the journey takes me. Buen Camino!

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