Lasha Morningstar

January 14, 2013

A clean slate. Usually a new year brings a great pricking of the conscience, an obligation to make – and keep – rules.

Again, usually, these are virtuous changes we – or others – think we should make in our lives.

Clean off the top of the desk. Gather income tax receipts early. Polish winter boots. Eat more salads. Take a real vacation this year.

Just sets me right up for failure.

It's much the same with many other folk who sit down during the Christmas break and draw up their resolution list.

Two or three weeks into the new regime and we fall off the wagon of virtue. For me it's a messy desk. Boots scuffed. Too hurried to make a salad. A go-away vacation? You're kidding.

This year it's going to be different. The premise is I am going to get to 2014 (the Good Lord willing and if the crick don't rise.).

How do I want to spend that year? The only reason I can talk about this change is because it came up when I was praying and the words murmured across my conscience were "What about joy?"

Believe me, this is the last goal I would have thought of on my own. It must have been whispered all the way from heaven by my grandmother. With a middle name of Lulu, she would know how to weave delight into raising six children while designing signature frothy hats for the city's society womenfolk.

But given our turbulent world where you struggle to keep your job, call on any distant Scots ancestor to help you squeeze each farthing as every fixed expense creeps upward, shudder as your heart breaks as the media broadcasts yet another mass murder, joy is not usually one of the highlights of one's must-do list.

But is life just meant to be endured? Or, is to find wee pockets of delight, laughter, happiness throughout each day?


This means sweeping away feelings of futility and naming what is keeping fragments of bliss from blessing life.

Sometimes these can be major issues. If one is an independent soul then one tries to resolve the problems on one's own. But that is not always wise. Professionals, such as lawyers, can guide one through a maze too often masked by emotions, lies, fights over money.

Police, too, bear the image sadly of only being the people you call in an emergency. But these professional protectors can also prevent. They can do such relatively simple things as going though your home and giving you suggestions as to how to prevent break-ins.

The school constable is that adult who can listen to a teen who for whatever reason has shut down from his or her parents. At times too, these officers of the law can guide a situation into a restorative justice resolution where all needs are met so healing, not retribution, takes place.

It can be such a relief to hand a situation over to the professionals. I can remember the weight leaving my shoulders when the police constable said to me, "That's our job, not yours."

Or maybe it's a relatively simple solution such as writing a letter to resolve a dispute of some sort. Maybe it will be resolved. Or maybe the letter will be sent back. But you tried.


When I studied with a masterful rabbi, we came to the High Holidays in the Jewish year. One of the essential steps he underlined to us was teshuva - a time when one went to someone they had offended and made it right.

We students were shocked and asked, "Everyone?" "Yup," he replied and broke into relevant Bob Dylan lyrics. "So what if they are dead," countered one worried apprentice. "You go to the graveyard and you talk to them," came the rabbi's swift reply.

Time to sweep the sads away.

Time to recognize joy when it appears in life.


It can be hugging two gorgeous teddy bears sent by sweet souls I have never met. Or, watching a gangly rescued pup burrow herself in snowdrifts, kicking her long legs into the winter air, dancing away just out of reach when it is time to go in. Or, seeing hope when those around you are shaking their heads.

And with that practiced delight hidden hurts are mended and life becomes . . . joyful.

That's my 2013 resolution. Thank you Gramma.

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)