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Part 1. Searching for joy and the meaning of life....

Sounds like a cliche or something to write about in a philosophy class....but my entire life I've been struggling with the balance between concern over my life and its inextricable connection to my own demise and the attainment of pure joy somewhere in between.

How do we define pure joy then? Your definition of joy and mine may be different, but what I suspect I am looking for is a deep, internal satisfaction with myself, my relationships, and my commitment to my faith.

It has never been easy. I was formed in a family defined by drama. If you felt it, you expressed it. The end. No filters. And, for many years, I struggled within this paradigm. Little joy was to be found in our family life.

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Yes, through an intense search for meaning in life, I have come across one of the most easily-identificable traits that sums up what pure joy might look like - being in the moment. Worrying about the past increases pain and invites depression to the party. Thinking too much about the future adds another guest to the celebration - that is anxiety. Those were my best friends for a long while - depression and its ugly friend anxiety. I did not know how to decrease them in my life.

I read voraciously. I did an examination of counscience. I watched others. I almost gave up. I left my faith. I returned. Then I realized that pure joy - not that flitting, fleeting, floating-like feeling of exuberance, but pure joy, was deep and satisfying, much like the love I had when I married my husband almost 47 years ago. I did not have the giddy, excitement that almost threatened to make my heart explode kind of feeling; but I had a deep sense of peace, happiness, joy, whatever you may call it. He was someone I knew I could spend a lifetime with, and time has proven that assessment to be true.

So back to pure joy. It comes when you are satisfied that you are doing what you are meant to do. Your mission has been recognized and embraced. Living and dying become more meaningful. Your joy is inextricably coupled with the sublime - the spirit, and for some of us, that spirit is the spirit of our God.

Have you found that inner peace we may refer to as pure joy? What steps do you need to take in order to attain joy? Stay tuned as we explore our lives together. One step at a time. Today awareness. Assess your joy level. Are you satisfied you are doing what you were meant to do in life? Most of us would say not really, but think about what gives you peace. Think about what gives you joy. Next step will be an exploration of the opportunities available to you. Peace be with you. Pray with me.

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