The Dalai Lama and Bishop Tutu inspired me. When they agreed that joy is at the foundation of who we are, I decided to spend some time sitting with this truth and exploring it.
It seemed like this could be one of truths hiding in plain sight in the Genesis creation story: we are made in God’s image. He is a creative God, a God that lives in community. If this is truly more fundamental than the fall, then this joy ought to be waiting for us.
And so I set about looking for it. In truth, it has only been a week or so of meditation practice that I have been on this hunt. But Martin Buber says that prayer doesn’t happen in time; time happens in prayer. Richard Rohr and Madeline L’Engle make much of the distinction between man’s way of measuring time: chronos, and the divine experience of time: Karios. Perhaps these things all mean that it doesn’t matter that I have only been looking for a week. Or maybe I am rationalizing.
I did not find an oasis of joy and ecstasy. I have not had one of those crazy mystical experiences of God entering into my world and blowing it wide open. I did have a sense about some things, though.
The Big Bang came to mind. Smarter people than me point out that the big bang was not an explosion that happened an empty universe, with all this time stretching out before it. Rather, that explosion created the very possibility of space-time.
I find myself wondering if God’s image, that primal joy I am looking for, isn’t confined to a certain location in my inner geography. It seems the divine image is maybe the very possibility that I have this kingdom within me at all. God’s joy is built into the very fabric of my own inner spaciousness.
I had this other sense. In a way this is a counter-point to the last thing. But it is also a continuation of it. And also totally separate… I had this other sense of a man running around and trying to see his own eyes in a world with out mirrors.
Perhaps the joy resides in the part of me that is doing the searching, in the place where all my thoughts and feelings come together. Perhaps this primal joy is in my soul/psyche/spirit/will/medial posterior parietal cortex. Perhaps I don’t see it because it is too close.
As my brain started to go in these directions, I found that the meditative state came and went. There are times it felt like I was not sitting all, just thinking, which is quite the opposite.
I anchored myself to my breath, one of these times. Tried to return my awareness to just there. And then I had this third, final thought. Also this thought is a continutation of that same first thought.
God breathed into the first person. That’s where he turned them from a handful of dirt into a human being. In that breath. I have babbled on, some, on this blog, about the profundity of this first breath. But it strike me anew, as I was wondering about this primal joy and how I find it. It is in the breath.
The breath that always brings me back to here and now. The breath that wipes away my past regrets and my future fears. The breath that rises and falls like waves through out my whole life, ushering in a fresh new now with every single one. That is where joy is: It is where the first joy came to us from God, and it lives there now, just waiting for us.