Sharing the Joy

“Ever since happiness heard your name, it has

been running through the streets trying to find you.”

~ Hafiz

Given today is Independence Day, it seems all too appropriate to capture a few reflections on a unique experience that liberates us in powerful ways: shared joy.

In my counseling practice, I often find myself apologizing for spontaneously laughing while someone is sharing something challenging they are going through. Amazingly, they often tell me to keep laughing and say something like, “Somebody’s got to laugh at this — please don’t stop.” I continually discover that the expansiveness of playfulness and joy can dissolve the energies of tragedy and suffering so magically.

“If you think you’re too small to make a difference,

try sleeping in a room with a mosquito.”

~ African proverb

There was a time in my life when I was not laughing much, when a sense of unworthiness and painful separation from others was my primary experience. Over the years, as I’ve opened more and more to my own joy & freedom, people often tell me how much they appreciate the unbridled fullness of my laughter. Like the playful cat in the photo above, the healing presence of each other’s joy is a contagious gift that makes all the difference as we walk through our very-often-absurd life on this planet.

Whenever I give myself the gift of a retreat in the beauty of nature, I am astonished how easily I open to the flow of joy inside my heart — it simply wells up naturally and takes its rightful place in my inner landscape.

“As I headed farther into the forest, I could no longer hear the sounds of the cars or smell their fumes. I breathed in the pure wonderful air. It tasted sweet on my tongue. Everywhere I turned, there was life. The energy hit me in a wave. Gripped by the spirit of the forest, I dropped to my knees and began to sob. I sank my fingers into the layer of duff, which smelled so sweet and so rich and so full of life, then lay my face down and breathed it in. Surrounded by these huge ancient giants, I could feel my whole being bursting forth into new life in this majestic cathedral. I sat and cried for a long time. Finally, the tears turned into joy and the joy turned to mirth, and I sat and laughed at the beauty of it all.”

~ Julia Butterfly Hill

Lastly, by way of praising the flow of joy we all have within:


by Anne Sexton

There is a joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry “hello there, Anne”
each morning.
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
thought often forget,
to give thanks
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoining
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard,
dies young.

All my best shining your way throughout this week, Gavin

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