Over the years I have found the writings of Henri Nouwen, the internationally renowned priest, author, respected professor and beloved pastor, on the spiritual life, both inspirational and poignant.
When recently reading one of his books: ‘Here and Now’ I was challenged to rethink my attitude and approach towards circumstances that I face in my daily life. In essence it comes down to the choice of my heart.
The following excerpt really resonated with me, I hope that you also find it meaningful.
It might sound strange to say that joy is the result of our choices. We often imagine that some people are luckier than others and that their joy or sorrow depends on circumstances in their life – over which they have no control.
However, we do have a choice, not so much in regard to the circumstances of life, but in regard to the way we respond to circumstances. Two people can be the victims of the same accident. For the one, it becomes the source of resentment; for the other, the source of gratitude. The external circumstances are the same, but the choice of response is completely different. Some people become bitter as they grow old. Others grow old joyfully. That does not mean that the life of those who become bitter was harder than the life of those who become joyful. It means that different choices were made. Inner choices, choices of the heart.
It is important to become aware that at every moment of our life we have an opportunity to choose joy. Life has so many sides to it. There are always sorrowful and joyful sides to the reality we live. And so, we always have a choice to live the moment as a cause for resentment or as a cause for joy. It is in the choice that our true freedom lies, and that freedom is, in the final analysis, the freedom to love.
It might be a good idea to ask ourselves how we develop our capacity to choose for joy. Maybe we could spend a moment at the end of each day and decide to remember that day – whatever may have happened – as a day to be grateful for. In doing so we increase our heart’s capacity to choose for joy. And as our hearts become more joyful, we will become, without any special effort, a source of joy for others. Just as sadness begets sadness, so joy begets joy.
As you commence a new semester and rekindle relationships within your learning community may you feel blessed and privileged in your service to others. In the wintry days that no doubt will be ahead may you see glimpses of the sun because it is the sun that allows you to see the clouds. When you speak about the sun whilst walking under a cloudy sky you are a messenger of hope.
Psalm 86:4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.