Advent Daily Devotional: WEEK of JOY: Day 17- Tue, Dec 14

I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be complete. — John 15:11

Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 11:7

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            For now, begin with the simple act of being present to whatever is going on within you and around you. Pay attention to your body and its experience.

            For instance, engage your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste? Ground yourself by taking this inventory of your senses.

            Now focus on a few simple strategies to cultivate joy through bodily self-care.

            Inhale. Hold your breath a moment.  Exhale slowly. Breathe.

            Mindful breathing offers healthful benefits. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, and helps regulate your body’s capacity to manage stress and fatigue. It reduces depression, burnout, and negative thinking. It boosts your capacity to manage chronic pain and positively affects the side effects of other illnesses or conditions such as diabetes.

            Repeat your breathing cycle. Then repeat it again.

            Now smile. Science urges that the act of smiling triggers healthy neurological responses. Floods your brain with positive, empowering chemistry. Improves your wellbeing psychologically and physically.

            Joy is connected to your body-mind-spirit connections. While it grows out of spiritual, emotional, and psychological practices, it remains an embodied experience, too.

            Let your senses ground you in your surrounds and in your own skin. Now inhale deeply. Hold your breath. Smile wider. As you exhale, blow out the Advent candles.  — Rev Gail

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To get the full value of joy you must have
someone to divide it with. Mark Twain

An age is called “dark,” not because the light fails to shine
but because people refuse to see it. – James Michener

Daily Advent Devotional: Day 20 – Fri, Dec 18

Gratitude is the birthplace of joy. Or vice versa.
            Appreciation and perspective enable you to embrace whatever comes. To find resilience in hard times. To opt for creative responses to challenging circumstances. To be curious rather than angry. It cultivates compassion and connection. Gratitude permits your starting point to be one of acceptance and adaptation, of positive thinking and an attitude of hope and empowerment. You can find beauty and satisfaction even in the midst of thorny times.
            With gratitude, you cherish what is already within reach. And value whatever gifts and experiences come to fruition. You may respect your history, savor the present moment, and believe in the potential of your future. All while experiencing keen awareness of now.
Rev Gail

For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy. —Psalm 92:4

The root of joy is gratefulness … It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. ― Brother David Steindl-Rast

Joy is the simplest form of gratitude. — Karl Barth

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. ― Henri J.M. Nouwen

I think joy and sweetness and affection are a spiritual path. We’re here to know God, to love and serve God, and to be blown away by the beauty and miracle of nature. You just have to get rid of so much baggage to be light enough to dance, to sing, to play. You don’t have time to carry grudges; you don’t have time to cling to the need to be right. — Anne Lamott

Daily Advent Devotional: Day 17 – Dec 15

As we consider the connection between spirit, mind, and body as a way to nurture joy, consider nutrition, movement and sleep as building blocks. Healthy eating habits, engaging in fitness and movement, and getting enough sleep all contribute to healthy bodies and brain chemistries.
            Give your body the resources to support spiritual wellbeing. Nutrition provides the essential elements for health as a foundation for joy and other spiritual states. Human bodies are designed for movement: so if your body permits these activities, then movement might remain as simple as standing, stretching, and walking. Movement might also involve more intentional forms of fitness and exercise such as dance, yoga, contemplative and expressive movement, swimming, running, hiking, skiing, recreational activities and playing games. Meanwhile, sufficient sleep promotes neurological and emotional equilibrium.
            By caring for your body’s basic needs, you foster the conditions for healthy spiritual states such as joy. — Rev Gail

You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy. — Psalm 30:11

If you reach for food when you’re under stress or gulp your meals down in a rush, try eating mindfully … focus your full attention on the meal … Eat slowly, taking the time to fully enjoy and concentrate on each bite. … the aspects of your health that are in your control. Exercise and sleep are particularly important … It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, so long as you do it regularly … Getting quality sleep every night directly affects your happiness, vitality, and emotional stability during the day. — Melinda Smith & Jeanne Segal

Any kind of movement will shift your energy into a more positive one … all forms of movement allow energy to flow more freely through the body. All the better if you create a practice out of it. — Tania Tyler

Reflections on joy, Advent 3 theme

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in You, a joy.  — Rumi 

Questions to consider about joy:

  • What is the difference between joy and other states of being, such as happiness?
  • What is essential to experience joy?
  • When has joy surprised you?

And All Be Made Well – Jan Richardson

That each ill be released from you
and each sorrow be shed from you
and each pain be made comfort for you
and each wound be made whole in you

that joy will arise in you
and strength will take hold of you
and hope will take wing for you
and all be made well.

For Equilibrium, a Blessing — John O’Donohue
Like the joy of the sea coming home to shore,
May the relief of laughter rinse through your soul.
As the wind loves to call things to dance,
May your gravity by lightened by grace.
Like the dignity of moonlight restoring the earth,
May your thoughts incline with reverence and respect.
As water takes whatever shape it is in,
So free may you be about who you become.
As silence smiles on the other side of what’s said,
May your sense of irony bring perspective.
As time remains free of all that it frames,
May your mind stay clear of all it names.
May your prayer of listening deepen enough
To hear in the depths the laughter of god.

JOY
 
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. – Tagore
 
To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with. – Mark Twain
 
The three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous. – Dalai Lama 
 
All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still ‘about to be’. – CS Lewis
 
When you are grateful, you are not fearful, and when you are not fearful, you are not violent. When you are grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity, and you are willing to share. If you are grateful, you are enjoying the differences between people and respectful to all people. The grateful world is a world of joyful people. Grateful people are joyful people. A grateful world is a happy world. — Brother Steindl-Rast
 
 We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.  – Dalai Lama 
 
‘Without pain, how could we know joy?’ This is an old argument in the field of thinking about suffering and its stupidity and lack of sophistication could be plumbed for centuries but suffice it to say that the existence of broccoli does not, in any way, affect the taste of chocolate. – John Green
 
Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities. – Fred Rogers 

I call it Joy. … But certain other experiences were… The first is itself the memory of a memory. As I stood beside a flowering currant bush on a summer day there suddenly arose in me without warning, and as if from a depth not of years but of centuries, the memory of that earlier morning at the Old House when my brother had brought his toy garden into the nursery. It is difficult or find words strong enough for the sensation which came over me; Milton’s ‘enormous bliss’ of Eden (giving the full, ancient meaning to ‘enormous’) comes somewhere near it. It was a sensation, of course, of desire; but desire for what?…Before I knew what I desired, the desire itself was gone, the whole glimpse… withdrawn, the world turned commonplace again, or only stirred by a longing for the longing that had just ceased… In a sense the central story of my life is about nothing else… The quality common to the three experiences … is that of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction. I call it Joy, which is here a technical term and must be sharply distinguished both from Happiness and Pleasure. Joy (in my sense) has indeed one characteristic, and one only, in common with them; the fact that anyone who has experienced it will want it again… I doubt whether anyone who has tasted it would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasures in the world. But then Joy is never in our power and Pleasure often is. — CS Lewis
 
I’d like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. 

… Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, … and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.

You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships. God has placed it all around us. It is in everything and anything we might experience. We just have to have the courage to turn against our habitual lifestyle and engage in unconventional living. My point is that you do not need me or anyone else around to bring this new kind of light in your life. It is simply waiting out there for you to grasp it, and all you have to do is reach for it- Jon Krakauer

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