I was asked to speak on Joy and what that means in our home.
I said of course, and proceed to realize that I had just set myself up for an intellectual quest.
I come from a long line of scientists and engineers so I started out with trying to figure out a consensus of definition.
In our day in age there is a dictionary which in a way said that joy is things like fun and happy to the 11.
But what does that mean, other than it is really, really, really, really a happy moment for us humans?
So, I did what any other person has the option of doing today and asked what joy mean to people on Twitter and Facebook.
The answers were mostly expected, a few that made me ponder more and I was starting to see some patterns.
I work with some tough kids, so I took this question to them and got some more expected answers, and some unexpected ones... but the patterns were holding... though somewhat elusive in setting into concrete language.
I asked a friend with whom I pursue issues of intellect and faith. I mentioned that I was starting to see that community was a theme, especially if the people were parents. My friend suggested that it was about being a part of something bigger than oneself.
More to think about. I have to admit that I was starting to question if those moments I would have called joyful actually were. I tend to avoid definitions that require faith, as it is something that is not really definable.
A few days later I was sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops, getting ready for a meeting and a dear friend happened to walk in. In the course of our conversation I decided they would be a good person to ask this question to... They revealed some interesting things to think about.
Among the things they said was that they tended to associate the word joy with the Christian faith. That in their work they used that word most commonly with Christians and not so much with people of an other faith.
I reacted quickly, saying that I thought joy was more of a universal concept, that it really did not have a faith barrier.
But, with time, and my typical Scottish Presbyterian upbringing tendency to dwell on such matters... I started to think there was something very valid in that assertion. The word joy is very Christian (though it does appear in the old testament and in other sacred texts).
Joy is sometime that often comes up around this time of year, in reference to Christmas of course.
So, I had to give in to the notion that Joy was a Christian notion... though in doing so I don't say that it is ONLY a Christian one.
I think that the patterns I was noticing, that of community were about being a part of something bigger than ones self. That is was feeling content, that it was not always an easy emotion, that it could include things like watching children being themselves and feeling your heart swell with something that could only be joy, that it could be about our senses being stimulated with simple things like a favorite horse chewing on alfalfa or sugar and just how magical that moment could be. I would even allow for the answers that threw me a little and might not apply to me; a sense of accomplishment, feeling buzzed, and listening to music.
One thing I do know... for me, the most constant source of joy comes from witnessing Squink grow up and be a part of the world he was born into.