Joy as a Clue to the Divine

I’ve been thinking a fair bit recently about Joy, and its relationship to God. Christians are promised a deep and lasting Joy in their lives, though are also pretty much guaranteed that it won’t always be accompanied by happiness. (Incidentally, I think much of what is percieved as pollyannaism among Christians stems from confusing the Joy we’re supposed to have with the happiness that we may or may not experience at a given point.)

In any case, it seems that a corollary to that promise of Joy as we participate in the Divine life is that the presence of Joy may give us a clue as to where God can meet us as individuals. I get a great deal of Joy out of being with my family, immediate and extended, of playing music, of going for long hikes, and spending time with a few of my dearest friends. On the other hand, I don’t often get much from work, and spending 2 hours a day in the car actively drains it from me. (And to continue to make the distinction clear, there are a number of things that tend to be enjoyable and make me happy that aren’t tied to joy: playing interesting games, adventure/mystery novels, Mystery Science Theater 3000, etc.)

So I’ve been trying to figure out if my life can be reordered to focus more on those Joyful aspects (even at the potential expense of some of the happy facets), and if indeed that does offer some individual clue as to where I need to be to be attuned to God’s operation in my life, or whether it’s simply borne out of pleasure-seeking.

I’m starting on Madeline L’Engle’s Walking on Water, a book with some of her reflections on Faith & Art. She seems very much convinced that each artistic act is a reflection of the creative portion of the imago dei planted in us — that in creating, she reflects the Creator in whose image she’s made. Interesting food for thought.