Too often we wait for joy to come to us when the real truth is that joy is something we must take responsibility for creating, not just for ourselves but for others as well. The beauty of joy is that, like a stained glass window through which light breaks into a myriad of colors, it enables us to see how good life is, even when it seems that it isn’t. Joy is not an event; it is an attitude a healthy person takes into every situation in life—work, family, social life, and even moments of personal stress. It speaks of hope and openness, of enticing possibility and the deep conviction that what is given to us in life is given to us for our own good.
The person who is spiritually mature trusts in the presence of a loving God to bring this moment, whatever it is, to ripen in the soul. It is through the lens of joy that we must learn to look at all of life. All of it is good but some of it we don’t recognize when it happens.
To be really holy people, we must stop thinking of joy as an accident of nature and begin to make it a priority. “Always remember,” Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught, “joy is not incidental to your spiritual quest. It is vital.”
And the ancients remind us, “There is no such thing as a sad saint.” Never confuse holiness with rigidity, morbidity, or moodiness. Those come from preoccupation with self, not with any awareness of the presence of God.