When construction began on the mile-long bridge across the lake behind our home I lamented that progress was stealing the scene I treasure. I like to sit in the kitchen window seat and read when I have a few minutes, and now my cherished view was changing fast. The noise from sunrise to sunset and sometimes on into the night, often accompanied by glaring floodlights, was a rude reminder of what I was losing.
One day I was standing at the window looking pointblank at the construction zone, fretting about this. I closed my eyes and visualized this same scene before the gigantic equipment invaded our quiet neighborhood. I moved from window to window trying to find an inspiring panorama.
Maybe if I narrowed my focus, I thought. Then put my open hands on each side of my face, Detective Monk-style. I moved around with my view restricted like a horse with blinders, blocking out the unwanted aspects of the scene outside the window.
Finally, I settled down in the window seat, content for a moment to view a portion of the lake that was, in one narrow view, undisturbed by the invasion of the civilized world.This moment was enough to fix in my memory the beauty of the lake as seen by a detective looking for clues no one else could see. This became my secret comfort during the months of construction. I could sit in the window seat and block out the ugly, unwanted parts of my world that I had no control over, and that brought me no joy.
So many times in our daily struggle to keep up with the progress and unrelenting expectations of the world, we need tunnel vision to find the rare and beautiful. We need to retreat momentarily to regain the joy we so easily lose in striving to always be aware of the entire scope of life around us. We can be joy detectives!
When we narrow our focus to one significant detail of whatever situation we are in we can find the joy the Lord wants to show us. Whatever the setting or circumstance, we can discover joy hidden somewhere, just waiting to be discovered. Now my eyes see the full view of the lake as it is today while the eyes of my heart narrow to see the lovely scene I found so breathtaking when I first discovered it years ago.
Any day in church I can choose to experience again the joy of my children’s baptisms, confirmations and weddings celebrated there, even if I am attending a funeral. Discovering a photo of the family around the Christmas tree recalls the intense joy of that day no matter how long ago it was or how our relationships have changed since then. We can discover the joy of the Lord in the embrace of a friend who spontaneously hugs us when, unknown to her, we need it the most.
Open the eyes of your heart. Be a joy detective and find joy wherever you are from within your own heart.
(© 2012 revised 2017 Nancy HC Ward)