Lasha Morningstar

WE ARE ONE

December 21, 2015

Joy. A little three-letter word. But this forgotten emotion packs a heck of a wallop.

So often we blank out joy from our life. No wonder, given the fact we are bombarded with negative stories each and every day. It is so easy to develop that Eeyore mindset - always gloomy, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

A wise receptionist shared this story with me. A dinner guest was regaling fellow diners with tales about what he would do if he won the lottery. One guest put down his fork and said to the storyteller, "But you already have won the lottery. You live in Canada. You have a job. You have a home. You have food on your table."

That silenced the storyteller and also the other guests while they digested the unexpected words.

Joy comes hard on the heels of gratitude, something that diner was trying to get his fellow guests to appreciate.

Gratitude is a tool those in the counselling field sometimes use with their clients. The worried are encouraged to keep a gratitude journal, writing down things they are grateful for at the end of each day.

Faced with the fact their life includes many blessings, the journal writer's perceptions and emotions usually made their way to the positive side of the emotion ledger.

In fact, Catholic journalist and activist Dorothy Day said we have a "duty to delight. To act joyfully brings joy to others which in turn makes one feel joyful."

Adjusting one's inner compass can be hard work. It is so easy to become accustomed to seeing only problems, abuse - the negative side of life.

When that happens, I often find myself confronted with someone or something in desperate need. I call this the angels giving me a slap on the side of my head. Shame washes over me, and I thank God for the gifts he has given to me.

Joy, as the astute diner mentioned, does not mean winning the lottery. Joy happens when someone hears "Your cancer is in remission," from their physician.

Joy happens when a lost relative calls and says "Hello."

Joy happens when you find that which was lost, be it a key, a brother, a missing document, your faith.

Many times, this can induce a shift in attitude. We expect truth, goodness, blessings. We open our soul to celebrating the gift of life.

AUTOMATIC NEGATIVITY

We need not become gullible, an easy mark to the rotters of the world. We can, however, stop having an automatic negative response to all the vagaries of life.

Christmas is coming. It is a time when the Christian world anticipates the birth of the Christ child. We are expected to be filled with joy.

For many though, this is a time of untold stress. If one is alone, the celebrating by friends and family can feel like salt in the wounds of abandonment.

Financial stress can be a burden too unless one realizes it is not presents but one's presence in others' lives that truly matters.

Perhaps too, one can look for the different joy, a quiet joy that comes from the appreciation of what we do have as opposed to what we think we should have or want.

Just ask a Syrian refugee what we have in our country. Their acceptance to this peaceful land is called by those waiting in their war-torn nation a "ticket of gold."

GRATITUDE MEANS SHARING

Appreciation also means sharing. If we have worldly goods, we share with those who have not. Here at the Pastoral Centre we are gathering food to help clients of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

It feels good to go down grocery store aisles and each time add items for hungry people.

Edmontonian Diana Steele is taking action this holiday season by organizing a campaign to raise funds to present a new soccer ball to each Syrian child arriving at the airport.

Combining forces with the Mennonite Centre, Steele also wants to put together care packages, including mittens, hats and stuffed animals for the young newcomers.

SOCCER BALLS FOR REFUGEES

The goal - to raise $5,000 to buy 250 new soccer balls. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/9hc89ewc.

In another vein, one kind soul who is scraping by financially says she is using her days off to write letters to people who have been kind to her. No money for gifts, she wants to give her gratitude.

As Pope Francis says, "Christmas is joy, religious joy of light and peace."

(Lasha Morningstar lasha@wcr.ab.ca)