“Today is my day to dance lightly with life,
sing wild songs of adventure,
invite rainbows & butterflies out to play,
soar my spirit, and unfurl my joy”
– Jonathan Lockwood Huie
The above quote may sound, in today’s vernacular, rather “cheesy.” I mean who, besides cartoon princesses and peace sign-flashing flower children, goes frolicking about Mother Nature, spinning ‘round in circles like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music? The truth is, “unfurling joy” in such an ebullient manner is something children seem to do as easily and as often as they breathe.
I recently attended my cousin’s pirate-themed birthday party for which I helped my mom plan an elaborate treasure hunt in and around the backyard “seven seas.” Using future garage sale items such as old barrel-racing trophies I’d won as a pre-teen cowgirl, gaudy costume jewelry (is that redundant?), stuffed animals that had been stuffed in a forgotten chest for ages, and a mishmash of other…well…junk, we strategically devised five unique routes to the ultimate treasure trove.
As soon as “On your mark…get set…go, mateys!” was exclaimed, five bands of six year-old pirates took off in a flurry of madness matched only by Jack Sparrow himself. You would have thought they had been told that iCarly was awaiting the winners in a candy-filled rocket, overflowing with puppies and destined for Disney World. They were simply filled with joy; and seeing the glee on their faces as they ran full-speed from swing set to mail box, from mail box to front door, from front door to funny tree was wonderfully contagious.
I thought that day that maybe childlike joy, unlike childlike faith, wasn’t something that could be genuinely experienced in adulthood. After all, by the time adolescence has passed, the thrill of make-believe treasure hunts and dancing butterflies has faded like storybook pages into pastel-colored memories. But I received a voicemail last week that, though brief and down-to-earth, made a lasting impression on my spirit, one that directs me up-to-heaven.
It was my sister-in-law, Anna, and in her sweet voice she seemed to sing, “Hi, Diana! I just had to share with you what God is doing in my life today!”
She proceeded to spend two and half minutes describing three occurrences in her day which, to most of us I presume, wouldn’t have seemed too extraordinary…
First, she’d decided to look for a few work outfits while on a milk and cereal run at Target. Not only did she find a few slacks and blouses at unbelievably low prices (plug for Target!), she ran into a young man she knew from college who told her that he was helping start up a CrossFit box just down the street from where she’s currently student teaching! This was a “God thing” indeed as she, like her brother and myself, loves CrossFit, and the encouraging community of people that populate it, most of all.
Last but not least, she eagerly shared that she’d recently discovered a new Christian radio station whose Christ-centered songs had been mightily ministering to her.
“The songs are totally about God, not about us. All the songs are totally in worship to God … It’s a nice place in life; it’s not always like this, but I just wanted to share this joy with you!”
Wow. Talk about unfurling joy. Anna was able to see Target as place for rainbows. Her conversation with the CrossFit guy moved her to dance like Julie Andrews. And the Christian radio station incited the mellifluous release of praise-filled butterflies from her overjoyed heart.
I no longer think childlike joy is reserved only for children. Rather, like the treasures at the birthday party, it’s buried, — hidden perhaps by guilt, condemnation, shame, or bitterness — for the faith-explorers among us to go forth and uncover. Praise God that Christ’s finished work on the cross has loosed us from our prison chains. We are free to enjoy the treasures of His Kingdom!
“The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.” –Psalm 126:3 (NIV)
Stay fit, stay faithful, stay joyful ~<3 Diana