It’s Been a Good Day — Cultivating Joy!

Staff_McDermott, TomThis morning, I held the door open for this guy coming into the bank. He was maybe late 30s and wore a tan shirt and khakis, shoes a little muddy, like maybe he was a landscaper and had already been at a job. He politely thanked me and then held the next door open for me. We nodded respectfully as we both stood in line for the teller. But I couldn’t tell you who he voted for this week.

On my way to the church, the highway was a parking lot. But someone slowed down to let me into the lane. She drove a red Camry, a newer model. I waved and she smiled and waved back. I did the same for someone else within the next few minutes, also waving an acknowledgement to each other. But I don’t know their political party affiliations.

At lunchtime, I had a great conversation with a young woman who worked at Central Market. She was wearing a Berliner T-shirt, so I mentioned that our son and his family are living there as he pursues graduate studies. She lived there several years, and we talked at length about the city and she passed on some great tips for our future visits. She was so nice and interested in our recent trip. I don’t know her religious beliefs or if she went to church at all or if she was happy or sad with the election results.

clouds-sun-skyBack at the church this afternoon, I took an afternoon walk downtown and ran into one of the guys I see at the Sunday morning community breakfast we serve at church. We talked about the weather and exchanged some casual conversation. Does he have an apartment somewhere? Does he live on the street? I don’t really know for sure. Did he vote this past Tuesday? I didn’t ask. I’m not sure what the future holds for him in the coming four years. But then, I’m not that sure what it holds for me either. If we’ve learned anything at all from the election this time around it’s that nothing is as predictable or presumable as we might think. But my breakfast friend smiled at me as he acknowledged the sun and some blue sky finally breaking into what had otherwise been a drizzly, chilly, gray couple of days.

Today was a good day.

But it’s been a stressful, even deeply sad, week for a lot of folks. While for others, it’s been a celebration. I suppose this reaction is inevitable every four to eight years in our country’s political life, though this year’s is certainly a more unusual election and has cultivated an angrier and far more divisive climate than most others.

Sunday is our final Sunday in our church’s Healthy Plate Discipleship series. And talking about “play” and “cultivating joy” in such an atmosphere of divisiveness may seem anathema, if not impossible. But we’re also looking at what is good for us in maintaining a balanced life. And if there is ever an opportune moment for real play, for cultivating lasting joy, for keeping life in balance, I suspect it’s just for times like these — when it looks like there is absolutely no way to win the game, when it’s clear you’ll be lucky just to finish the race (much less to place), when the diagnosis suggests there’s no possible cure or mending the divide or even getting out of bed seems impossible. This is when the opportunity for play and cultivating joy is at its strongest.

This Sunday, November 13, at 11:11 am

we have actor Jakie Cabe with us for some serious fun, as well as singer Lisa Stovall and the whole band (including an expanded brass section). And we’re celebrating all the ways we can cultivate joy in our lives, no matter the circumstance or context.

I hope you can join us this Sunday at eleven:eleven celebration!

Tom

P.S. Plan to stick around afterward as we join outside for a churchwide celebration with games and healthy foods, explore Healthy Plate opportunities throughout the church, and listen to some great music with Brad Thompson and the Revolution Band.

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