Joy at the stoplight

As I drove toward the intersection, the light turned yellow, then red. I stopped, thankful that at least I would be the first driver out of the gate after this, the longest stoplight on our route. A red pickup truck pulled beside our car on the driver’s side, and I saw a little smiling face looking at me from the passenger window. I was eye-to-eye with a girl about 5 or 6 years old. Her glistening eyes kept looking at me. Joy flooded her face. I stared wide-eyed at her and instinctively smiled back.

When she looked away briefly to dance a doll on her knees, I continued grumbling to my husband about our late start to meet our son, daughter-in-law and grandson for his birthday dinner.

Turning back to my left, there she was again with that generous smile of innocent friendliness! Her smile was so contagious that my shoulders relaxed and I felt anxiety drain from my body. I motioned to my husband to notice the smiling girl in the truck beside us. He commented about her beautiful smile.

We stared and smiled at her beaming face with delight until she turned to respond to a man in the driver’s seat next to her, probably her father. Then I saw the rosary hanging from the rear view mirror and praised God that he sent this moment of joy from a Christian Catholic family.

Soon she was back smiling at us unabashedly. Then the light turned green, the truck turned left and we headed for the state highway ahead.

Did she wave goodbye? I couldn’t tell, but wished I could give her a sign of my thankfulness for lightening my heart of the worry of arriving late for dinner.

In the minute or two it took for the light to change from red to green, she gave me the gift of pure joy! Her shining face reminded me that joy is a gift from God. As Pope Saint John Paul II said:

God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us.


What moments of unexpected joy can you discover today?

(© 2015 Nancy H C Ward)  

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About Nancy Ward

Nancy HC Ward is a journalist, author, and speaker who blogs about Catholicism, her conversion, and Christian community at,
 7 websites and 7 magazines. She loves to share her faith story and help others share theirs through her Sharing Your Faith Stories seminars, also available on DVD. She contributed four chapters to The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. She facilitates the Dallas/Fort Worth Catholic Writers and a critique group for the Catholic Writers Guild, where she serves as a board member.
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3 Responses to Joy at the stoplight

  1. Pingback: Member Round-Up | The Catholic Writers Guild

  2. Wonderful article Nancy! All virtue is rooted in Charity (love). Kindness and Joy are virtues (and fruits of the Holy Spirit) that are specifically aligned with the virtue of Charity. A kindness expressed to a stranger is a kindness expressed to God. When done with love, we are graced with the fruit of the Holy Spirit – Joy! What a blessed experience for you to have been graced with Joy. Sounds like you might have also been graced with Christ’s Peace, since your anxiety about being late diminished. All of the virtues are interconnected. They have the ability to bring us closer to God.

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