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Valuing Joy

This morning, I sit near my altar, feeling the coolness of fog through the open window, and listening to the sound of chimes in the breeze and birds complaining. I’m preparing to head off to the Pagan Spirit Gathering for Summer Solstice week and am wishing I could take the fog with me to the land of blazing sun and wet air. I also realize that I won’t be back in time to write the long post I’ve been thinking of for Pax’s “Pagan Values Blogging Month” before June’s end. But in thinking about spending a week at a large festival, I wanted to talk briefly about one of my values as a Pagan: Joy.

Joy was not something that I saw as a spiritual attribute during my childhood. These days, it is active in my life. I work hard, and often earnestly, but that too, is suffused with the gentle light of happiness. You see, some years ago I made a choice to be happy. I decided that happiness was just as important as anything else I valued in life. So relationships that didn’t serve this were torn asunder. Work that didn’t serve this slowly went away. But the main changes were internal, not external. The main changes were: listening more closely to the birdsong in the morning. Listening more closely to the whispering of the Gods. Listening more closely to all the levels of communication happening when someone was talking, trying to sense what they were really saying. Listening to my body, to give it what was necessary and wanted in order  to have health and a sense of well-being. Listening to what work was calling out to be done. In other words, I was listening to the wishes of my soul and listening for my place in this beautiful world. I now have, not only happiness, but an abiding sense of joy – that quality which is a quiet suffusion of well-being and light even in the most obscured or painful moments.

At that major juncture in my life, I was choosing to cultivate joy by being fully present in and for my life, in and for the cosmos. Listening was the primary practice that manifested in many ways. I feel grateful for joy, grateful for practice, grateful for love, and grateful for the deep well that opened up through listening.

This week I will spend teaching, listening, dancing, drumming, singing, playing, having long conversations with smart people, swimming, sweating … and being active with this Pagan value of Joy. Our religion is not one of dour faces. Our religion, which can challenge us, feed us, make us cry, and even let us down, values laughter just as much as prayers and incense. Sometimes it values the party more than makes me comfortable, and to what I might see as the detriment of our spiritual depth, but I am glad we are an embodied religion. I am glad we value laughter. I am glad we seek out the enticement of the dance. I am pleased to value joy.

I leave you with blessings of the sun at its full power. Blessings of love. Blessings of strength. Blessings of joy.

[A new Elemental Castings should be up by Monday. Have a great week!]

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