“Watch, Lord, with those who wake or weep tonight. Give the angels and saints charge over those who sleep. O Lord Jesus Christ, tend your sick ones, rest Your weary ones, bless Your dying ones, soothe the suffering ones, pity all the afflicted ones, shield the joyful ones, and all for Your love’s sake. Amen” – Saint Augustine
I started a book the other day titled, Exuberance: the passion for life. It has been a joy to read. The author is Kay Redfield Jamison, who is a psychologist and well known writer. She begins the book with a line from the Augustine prayer…
“…shield the joyful ones…”
I stopped as soon as I read that simple set of words. It is not really an easy concept to wrap my mind around actually. I mean that I agree with the author’s presentation of the fact that we often think thoughts of protection for those that are suffering. We furrow our brows like a farmer tilling the soil when we hear of a tragedy or saddening situation. We lament over the losses of those in and around our lives. We pour the emotional “alcohol” to numb us to the painful present.
How many times do we seek to protect the joyful moments and those within them? Oh, we share in the gratefulness of the greater moments while trying to shelter those in the lesser. We speak the goodness of Creator of joy… all the while never thinking that both… joy and grief are many times brought together in the union of the universe. We will walk along the shorelines of sadness while wondering if the waters will ever calm down. We look to the rocky soil that our feet trod upon while in contemplation over the heaviness of life. We ruminate over the misfortune… yet discard the joyful moments almost as if we already know in the soil of our soul that the seeds of negativity still lie dormant deep within.
The “joyful ones” is not just a place or only a seasonal moment.
“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.” – Kahlil Gibran
Could it perhaps be that we look at the weight of sorrow and look lightly at the spirit of joy? We talk about “sorrow" being for a moment yet we look at joy as an experience. They are both experiences that we will all have through this circle of life. We will see the beauty and joy of birth while feeling the pain of loss in death. We see the hope of joy in the movement of a love; while blinded in a transition of grief. Neither joy nor grief truly occur without the other. Someone once said that for we know “joy” because we have experience “sadness”. Gibran encourages us to not just glance on sorrow like we do an open wound but to look into it; so, that we will understand the future of healing.
Yes, Saint Augustine was wise to ask that there be a shield around those that know joy. For it is in joy that the darkness of sorrow is given space and healing. It is the strength of joy that lifts the weakest of those in pain. Thich Nhat Hanh, speaks of the garden of our soil when he shares with us that when a lesser seed of negativity is germinated we need to be mindful of love so that we not become chocked by the weed of hatred. It is in the act of metta that we give ourselves and those around us the air of freedom to not be down-casted but to be uplifted
We are meant to dance as well as mourn. We have a spirit that lives within us that longs to be laughing at the simplest of things. We all have this inner child that dares to dance to music within and it is so wanting to just get out of the chair that we have many times confined it to. We have an inner adolescent that wants to know that it is ok to be embraced with sadness while still having the freedom to joyfully explore its own identity. In many ways, it could be that the lack of freedom is where we get the shackles of self-restraint; so, that the desired joy of self-acceptance is denied.
Would we not be angry if we discovered that a missing child had been entrapped and placed into slavery?
Would we not be infuriated over the knowledge of run-away teenager being abused?
Would we not grieve over the loss that a person has to accept when they are confronted with a death or illness?
That child… that teenager… they all represent something to us. They represent the innocence of joy. The promise of hope. They are the dream-makers in our lives. They represent the daring ability to try something that adults rationalize as being inconvenient… reckless… radical… promising.
The confrontation of death and illness symbolizes something fundamental to all of us. They tell us that life is dangerous… fleeting… mortal… loss of freedom… it steals our dreams.
Yes, shield the joyful ones. Protect those that have hearts that send us light into a darken present. Provide a music within them to sing to us so that we have the opportunity to dance.
We need those that have a joy to be free to reach their hands out to those that are lying down in the gutter of despair; so that in the union of connection the strength of the joyful draws those that are weak to be stronger.
If you are joyful, dance with life.
If you are joyful, speak with words of encouragement.
If you are joyful, reach out to those that are weaken.
If you are joyful, do not consider this a fleeting a moment for self-pleasure but a time to share in the journey of those that need you the most.
breaking script…. Namaste