I have this mask that says, “Today I Choose Joy”. I have worn it frequently over the last year, as it is light weight, comfortable and I appreciate the message. I guess if I am going out into the world with a message splashed across my face, I would like it to be about joy. In some way, I am also “preaching” to myself.
The response to my mask has varied. Perfect strangers have scoffed and sneered, become defensive, and challenged me about the validity of joy in our current world. Others have affirmed, signaled thumbs up in approval and given me socially distanced high-fives. Regardless of the responses, sprinkling joy into the world has seemed far better than the alternative.
In one such recent encounter, someone challenged me to name one of my “joy choices” over each of the last 7 days. There was a tone to our conversation that suggested my mask was more “performative” and this request was somehow testing the convictions of my heart. My answer came swiftly, as I recounted.
A lunch break with a co-worker in a sunny courtyard.
A dinner gathering with friends over baked ziti, salad, and sorbet.
A text from a friend sending prayers for no other reason than just to offer them.
A spontaneous backyard dinner with barbecue takeout.
A planning meeting to celebrate a friend’s retirement.
A sunny walk around a lake with a cool breeze.
A chat with snacks in the front yard of friends.
My conversation partner seemed unimpressed with my list.
I could have named more. Stopping, thinking, and naming my joys has brought to light all that is wonderful in my life. There is so much now that is challenging, difficult and less than ideal, with so much that is outside of my control. But my days have amazing moments of great joy, that may seem disguised as the simple and mundane. Regardless, I choose to abide in that joy.
I wish my mask said, “Today I Know Joy”. I feel that is a better reflection of what is known in my heart. I know the joy of feeding my body, mind, and spirit. It is no wonder that most of my named joys involve eating food in community. I know the joy of loving others and being loved. I know the joy of God’s presence in those moments. I know the joy of following Christ. I know the joy of the Holy Spirit working in my life. I know the joy in feasting on the Word and at the Table.
Knowing this joy does not equate to easy, clear, comfortable, or without pain and suffering. It just means that even in times of darkness, trial, pain, and suffering, I can still know joy, the joy of God at work in my life.
Today and every day, I know joy.
Karla Koon is a Worship Leader and Eucharistic Minister at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. When not serving at church or working as the Director of HR Operations and Administration for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (Catholic Charities), you can find Karla, reading, quilting, golfing, hiking, kayaking, and (safely) gathering with friends and family.