A few days ago I was listening to an interview about authenticity, and the speakers’ conversation floated briefly to the topic of prosperity. Not material prosperity, though, or even physical, but rather all the things that support and promote our spiritual wellness. PRO-SPIRIT, you know? Prosperous. I love it. And that got me thinking all over again about the importance of rejoicing, or of RE-JOY-ING our lives. I became so lost in thought (I was running at the lake as I listened) that after a few miles of thinking and nearly bursting into tears (happy ones) I had no idea where the interview had gone and had to stop to back it up.
Prosperous. Pro-spirit. All the many things that support, promote, fortify, guard, and otherwise enhance our spiritual selves. To me, in my recent vernacular, my spirit self is my breath, too, so there’s a physical aspect to consider, though not exactly a material one. (Semantics? Ok maybe.)
Without much effort I was able to summon dozens of activities, conditions, and other life details that are thoroughly pro-spirit for me: Gardening, reading books, quiet devotional time before daybreak, perfect coffee, long deep conversations with my husband and close friends, running, hiking, certain kinds of music, warm vegetarian meals, romance, a clean, fragrant house, the exact perfume of fresh herbs, the feel of compost and rich soil, the color of free range egg yolks, hearing my parents laugh so hard they cry, long slow walks in every kind of weather, soft rain, crazy storms, sunshine, beach days, saltwater, cloud watching, star gazing, planning dinner menus and hosting big parties (really love this), also hosting intimate gatherings, the crunch of my spade into raw earth, upward vining flower stems, flirtatious doves, fuzzy horses, piano serenades, chocolate covered almonds, finding the perfect words for an idea… Oh maaaannnnn my list is long. And just reflecting on this list and the idea that we have so much power to feel better brought me to tears while running. It still does, as I write this.
Rejoice. RE-JOY-ing yourself. On those days, in those moments, when you feel drained and defeated, it is possible to actively grasp joy. You can choose it. In fact, we are instructed to choose joy. This is such a comfort to me, this understanding that if we are instructed to rejoice (to re-joy ourselves), then it must be a natural occurrence to sometimes lose joy, to be drained of it. It is part of an earthly condition. The need to refill our tanks does not necessarily reveal a mistake; it’s just part of life. And the opportunity to be a co-creator of something as powerful and transformative as JOY is just mind blowing to me.
A few nights ago our Sweet Sperrys were at the farm for dinner. As we had dessert I asked everyone this question: “What does Rest and Recreation mean to you?” We went beyond hammocks and barbecue, in case the term “R & R” conjures up simply some weekend vibes. We talked about what things we do in life that help us actually re-CREATE ourselves. What drums up and rebuilds the essence of who we are as people? My husband and our two dear friends had gorgeous answers to share. The four of us, not surprisingly, had plenty of overlap but also gobs of uniqueness between us. Something all four of us identified in some way was some kind of making or building. It got me thinking of our opportunity to be co-creators with God. That, really, is an amazing gift. And I love that three of my favorite people grasp it.
Circling back to the interview about authenticity… It would not serve any of us very well to seek “re-creation” or prosperity according to someone else’e idea of self, no matter how much we like or admire that person. That is imitation, and it is exactly what creates the aching void, never what fills it. And this points to how intricate and fascinating we are as individuals, how each of us, no matter how much common ground we may share, has a very specific and widely varied idea about a great recipe for re-creation, of how best to re-joy ourselves, of what we can find to be pro-spirit in daily life. I love that. I love the kaleidoscope of personality and the rich texture of humanity we can experience, just in a small group of loved ones.
Side note: Do you ever feel sad to realize you will never know pretty much all of the rest of the world? Ha. Sometimes I worry about dumb stuff that does not even matter and over which I have zero control. But there it is.
- Prosperous = PRO-Spirit. All the things that support, enhance, guard, and fortify your spirit self. I want to live prosperously both for myself and for the people near me. I want to maintain an atmosphere of well being so that my loved ones feel charged up and nourished in their spirits as much as possible. And knowing that everyone is different, this requires a full spectrum adventure to really know each other deeply. That is fun stuff right there.
- Rejoice = RE-JOY-ing yourself. An act of reclaiming JOY, of deliberately refilling your tanks and laying hold all over again of that sense of confidence and well being that is above circumstances, beyond reason, and often difficult to explain to others. (Let’s not waste precious energy berating ourselves for needing to re-joy, either. It’s normal.)
- Recreation = RE-CREATE yourself, the essence of who you are as a God-made individual, not imitating someone else or following an external narrative or blueprint. Remember the “Joy of Missing Out” if that helps.
Today is our friend’s birthday. We have known Mickey for just a few years now, but we feel as tightly knitted as if we all grew up as siblings. Especially me, I don’t mind saying, because he and I had kinda similar childhoods and have reached the middle point of our forties with a spectacular twinness, if you allow that sometimes twins are exact opposites of each other, ha. We challenge and frustrate each other, but we have the best conversations afterwards too. We love many of the same pleasures in life, but we are on opposite ends of the “Noise and Energy” spectrum. I am a lot more fun, obviously. But he makes transcendental hand-rolled pasta, so there’s that.
Mickey is a creator by nature, a leader and a giver, a man with thoughts so deep you might think of the kind of water that gets too cold for bare feet, so you draw them up to your belly and it’s a little scary, but if you take a generous enough breath and dive straight down, you will eventually find a warm, underwater cave where you can breathe easily and see magical fish and rocks and coral that glow, even away from the sun. That kind of deep thinking.
Mickey is exacting in his standards for communication and task execution, a stickler for detail, a passionate cook and lover of dogs and black coffee and hand crafted everything. He is artisnal, and I borrowed that theme from him. He is a husband of more than two decades to one beautiful woman, Kellie the Courageous. He has a heart for service and giving and meeting strangers’ needs anonymously, because too much closeness is too much for him.
I know in my bones that, in the midst of some excruciating pain in the valley, Mickey trusts God. Mickey proclaims and asserts God’s power over the big and the small stuff. And he will enjoy the rewards of that kind of faith, in God’s perfect time.
I feel acutely thankful for this fresh thinking about authenticity and joy-seeking, because my life is rich with Mickey and Kellie and Handsome and our children and family. If we all manage to, at least most days, re-joy ourselves and re-create what makes us us, if we live pro-spirit-ously and make room for each other to do the same, my gosh. My gosh what a world.
Happy Birthday, Mickey!
Get to Re-Creating.