After allowing Hope and Peace to live in our hearts over the last two weeks, we now come to Joy. Chara is the Greek word for joy.
In chapter 15 of St John’s Gospel are the words, “that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Coincidentally I wrote about this text this week. “The sign of love is joy, chara. This is not frivolous happiness; chara is related to charis which means grace, graciousness and gratitude. It is a quiet feeling that swells our heart and fills our whole being with light. We feel humbly confident, strong but not overpowering, and certainly filled with gratitude.”
Joy is a deed, an accomplishment that we cannot really explain, we can only experience it. We experience joy when we connect with higher things. Like when we catch a glimpse of the purpose of a child born in the Middle East 2000 years ago changing the world forever, joy rises in our hearts like a morning mist allowing the first rays of the sun to shine through.
Then, if we are able to follow the development of this child, born into a tribe, as it felt the first imprint of individuality in its soul, joy rises within us. This joy is not only the result of our ability to see what took place but also to recognize the freedom made available to every single human being.
The joy awakens in us a sense of independence while at the same time giving us the ability to make creative choices. An innate respect awakens within us for every human being who, like us, has the power to make choices. When we see this we also see our relationship to the Gods who make choices to create and maintain this Universe. Accompanying this joy is the deep sense of responsibility we have for each other and for this world.
Joy is not something we express; it is a quiet inner activity that shines from us to the extent that we can achieve it. We don’t need to tell anyone we are experiencing this joy, they know and they set about trying to have the experience themselves.
When Rudolf Steiner was asked why there is so little happiness in life when everyone just wants to be happy, he replied, “Well, maybe being happy is not our reason for being alive.” He added that we are alive to accomplish a particular task. We know we are accomplishing our particular tasks when we hear the whispers of joy filling our hearts.
Image: The Nativity by Lorenzo Monaco ca. 1406–10