More about it to come, but I thought I'd share this post I wrote while out there. It's a little long, but it comes full circle.
Hope you like it!
There is something about being alive that is truly wonderful.
Before you jump to any conclusions about what I might be writing here, let me clarify a little- I don't mean just living- I mean alive. That feeling that we can only imagine Rose is feeling when she stands on the mast of the Titanic, the able bodied DiCaprio holding her tight while the wind flies through her air. Or the one that we know must be pouring out of Jekyll when he first discovers that he can actually split his personality, and that he may have just cured his father's insanity. Or even the one that we know that Elisha feels after seeing his boss taken up to heaven in a blazing chariot.
These moments are moments of being alive.
I suppose it starts with the realization that we are breathing. That each gasp of air that fills our lungs is a gift and not a privilege. And then we go a step further and start to realize that each moment is also a gift. And then we start to realize that we are wasting a lot of gifts in misery, pain, sadness, and worst of all, apathy.
I'm going to make a grammatical decision here and now. The opposite of joy is not sadness. It's apathy. Because joy is something that we feel even when our hearts are not always happy- we can be joyful in all kinds of times- times of heart break, times of happiness, times of wonderment, times of disillusionment, times of fitting in, and times when the entire world turns their backs on us, including those who were supposed to know us best. Because joy is a feeling of being alive even when these emotions are running into our veins on an extra strength drip. And the thing about being able to feel them is that it is also a gift.
So let's come back to being alive then. Those moments mentioned above, they are all routed in joy. For Rose, it was joy in knowing that despite the turmoil churning in her spirit, she had a choice. She could choose to be in love, to leaver who she was behind forever. And for that moment while she stands, hair in the wind, love holding her up, she is free to let go and be real. Similar to Jekyll, who has given his entire life to find this cure. His bride-to-be is on the verge of leaving him behind, his funding is being cut off, his father is on his way to a certain death. And yet in the moment of discovery, his heart is freed from all that he knows is crumbling around him, and a hope has sprung inside him.
Imagine, then, what our prophet friend must be feeling. Here is he, called to this position that pays nothing and makes people very unhappy. He is called to serve a God that he knows to be true, but whose reward system must have seemed a bit unbalanced and uncertain. But then! The moment of clarity! Watching Elijah being called home to the Lord in a Chariot of Fire, and realizing the truth in all that they worked for- it must have felt like Euphoria, even amongst the loss and fear that might have been circling through his heart.
These moments are steeped in being alive. They are moments of joy.
Have you gotten the idea here? Do you see my connection? I believe that being alive is experiencing the joy in life, no matter what is going on in your heart. I'm not saying that it isn't alright to be sad, or scared, or feel hurt or loss every now and then. But in all of these moments, if we let the pain rule everything, we will lose interest in that which makes us feel real. That which makes us feel alive.
I write today from a conference that I've been to only once before. The first time, I remember driving in with a friend of mine, looking at the beauty of the trees and leaves and grass and sky... and feeling nothing at all. The pain in my life, at that time, was too much for me, and I'd hid within it, cutting myself off from anything else I may have been wanting. And I'd lost the drive to appreciate anything else as a result.
The next day, I went outside and sat down just to think. And I opened myself up, and let myself be cut by all that was hiding inside me. It was exceptionally painful, but you know what? It was also wonderful. I was free to take in the world around me. I was ready to let life resume. And after a while, all the bad stuff went away. I don't even remember what I was upset about or hurt by. But I remember the immense joy that came from removing it's hold on me, even today.
I am alive today. I am joyful. All the pain that is in my heart will be only temporary. But this joy- this will last as long as my heart, and I, allow it.