Joyful Celebration

by John Gibson

“Let ours be a time remembered for…... the joyful celebration of life.”

(Earth Charter, The Way Forward).  

Joy is a very tall order in a world of perpetual natural disasters, human atrocities, personal and political scandals, widespread hunger, millions of refugees, threats of war, etc.  Dare we even speak of joy in such turbulent times?  Maybe. 

First we must remember that joy is more than a sensory titillation.  Joy is deeper; a feeling of personal purpose and fulfillment.  The poet Rabindranath Tagore put it this way:

I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted and behold, service was joy.

This insight is reminiscent of Principle 9(c) in the Earth Charter: “Recognize the ignored, protect the vulnerable, serve those who suffer, and enable them to develop their capacities and to pursue their aspirations.”  The strange truth is that joy is a by product of helping others find happiness.  As Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries says, “joy is a two-way street.”

So, yes, joy is possible, especially in these times, when the unhappy are all around us yearning for a listening ear, a helping hand, a civil conversation, a thank you, a gesture of respect, an invitation to participate, a way to be useful.  

For the joyful celebration of life.



Earth Charter