Back in June, I published a very long essay on this blog titled “Melancholia & thisness: where does joy abide?”
In brief, this essay was a response to leadings I gained from rereading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Red Mars. More specifically, is began with a description of melancholic temperament and walked through the approaches to reconnection with life adopted by Robinson’s characters (Kami and veriditas, Thisness) in order to arrive at joy.
In the key passage, I wrote of my experience in the 1980s, in a gay/lesbian congregation:
Given my own odd combination of staid Lutheranism and passionate Paganism, it amused me during those services to find my hand lifting as if on its own when I felt an excess of joy—as if there were too much energy to hold and I needed to give some of it back to God/dess.
That sort of experience would happen not only in worship, but also on woody hikes, or while reading something poignant or hearing a powerful song lyric, or after a successful session with one of my counseling clients—or just whenever.
In my late fifties, the new twist is this.
During those earlier years, the gesture of thanks came in response to joy. Presently, whether I become aware of a blessing or become aware that I have trapped myself in anxiety or despair, I am led to stop, settle into the moment, and allow a wave of thanks to rise through me.
Joy follows thanks.
Thanks for what? Thanks to whom?
Thanks for being brought back to awareness of the moment, painful or beautiful or both. Thanks to the wholeness of which my transitory “self” is a part.
This past weekend, I was led to approach the issue of joy from a different perspective. I encourage readers to visit my other blog, Walhydra’s Porch, and read “Fearing Joy.”