Pearls for the Journey: Kindle Joy
By Rev. Carol Hallman*
I attended the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ CREDO (PBUCC CREDO) week-long Seminar right when I was finishing my Sabbatical. A lot of the topics that we covered at PBUCC CREDO were on areas I wanted to focus. I've been in ministry for more than 20 years, so this was a good time to look back and look forward.
When I saw on our schedule a session called "Kindling Joy," I thought, "Duh, why do we need to talk about that?” It didn't appear to me to have much point. Then we read Jack Gilbert's poem, "A Brief for the Defense," which woke me up.
We live in a Good Friday world—a world of pain and sorrow, a world of mass shootings and threats of war. It's easy to get lost in the pain. Joy, however, is a gift that God wants for us. It is also a choice we can make. During the PBUCC CREDO Seminar, I wrote in my journal that joy is more about the journey than the destination; more about experiences along the way. Kindle joy.
In Gilbert's poem he says, "We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice of this world the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil...”
These words reminded me that I do have a choice to live in joy versus allowing the pain and sorrow I experience in life, in the lives of my church members, or in the world around me, to get me down. Since then, I try every day to find joy, to find delight. The other morning when I went for a run with my Sheltie, Indy, we heard the “peepers” in the stream nearby for the first time this season. I rejoiced at the reminder that life continues, life is good, and joy is possible even in the places of darkness. We may live in a Good Friday world, but the promise is that Easter is always on the horizon and joy is possible, so choose joy.
About PBUCC CREDO
PBUCC CREDO is a holistic wellness benefit that offers clergy space and resources to examine significant areas of their lives and discern prayerfully the future direction of their vocation as they respond to God’s call in a lifelong process of practice and transformation.
The CREDO experience is anchored in a week-long Seminar and includes a pre-Seminar assessment and post-Seminar resources so that participants can deepen their commitment to lifelong wellness. Learn more about this program here http://bit.ly/PB_CREDO.
*The Rev. Carol Hallman is the Pastor of First United Church of Christ in Salisbury, NC.