I have been thinking a lot about joy, ever since I came across these words by Henri Nouwen, “Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy, and keep choosing it.” So when I was driving home from my Zumba class this morning, feeling energized and silently asking my deepest self what steps toward my vision of teaching more InterPlay, developing Body Wisdom Groups and engaging more coaching clients and I happened to see this HUGE teddy bear on the lawn of a house I was passing, I simply had to drive around the block so I could stop and take a picture. All the while I was thinking “Gladys would love this!”
Now you need to know about Gladys. Gladys LOVES Teddy Bears. I mean she really, really loves Teddy bears; big bears, small bears, medium size bears, bears you can squeeze and cuddle, bears that adorn every nook and cranny of her home. She even has an artificial Christmas tree that has nothing but bears as ornaments. If you are thinking of buying Gladys a gift, it’s simple just go on a bear hunt!
While far too many of us have left our teddy bears and other child-like wonders behind, Gladys remains filled with the love, the wonder and the joy of a child as she shows you her bears. In fact I’d say that Gladys is filled with the love, wonder and joy of a child in everything she does and says. I think that’s why she had so many dear friends. To be in her presence is to be in the presence of JOY! Oh don’t get me wrong, she has handsome very tough times, times when I’m sure it was a struggle to continue to see the world with the wonder of a child. But even in those hard times it was clear to me that way down deep she chose each and every day to claim joy as er birth rite and share joy as her mission!
One of the ways she shares this joy is through her radiant smile. But the most wonderful way she shares it is through the most life-giving hugs you have ever experienced. In fact, when Gladys first came to the congregation I was serving in Brookfield, WI. she literally hugged us back to life. We had just gone through a very difficult time and I was personally questioning everything about my call to ministry, when in walked this woman with a smile that lit up the room, a hug that warmed you to your toes and a joy that was simply contagious. Plus she wanted to sing in the choir! It wasn’t long before we all smiled a little more and hugged a while lot more and started to feel the” joy, joy, joy joy down in our hearts!”
I think perhaps Gladys had so much joy to share because she choose to do those things that fed her spirit and kept the flame of joy burning in her heart. She loves to sing and so she joyfully shared her voice. She has a degree in Theater arts and so she joyfully shared her talents not only in the community theater, but by leading the children’s Christmas pageants at church. She loves to entertain and so she opened her home for meeting and parties and shared suppers. She loves people and so she goes out of her way to stay connected with people she has met along her life’s journey.
I doubt that Gladys would think of the things she does as consciously choosing joy. But because her voices come from her heart, I believe that her cup overflows with joy and the world is blessed!
Thank you Gladys for shinning the light of joy in my life!