How Joy Works by Jan Richardson

You could not stop it

if you tried—how this blessing

begins to sing

every time it sees

your face, how it turns itself

in wonder

merely at the mention

of your name. It is simply

how joy works, going out to you

when you least expect, running up to meet you

when you had not thought

to ask.

How Joy Works

Such simple words, are they not? But the feelings they evoke are complex. With barely a mention of the word, Richardson allows us to feel, or perhaps I should say, allows me to feel joy in my being.

You could not stop it / if you tried – who would want to stop joy from happening? She calls joy a blessing that begins to sing / every time it sees your face. You know that effervescent feeling that you get sometimes with certain beings or places you love – that is what she is telling us joy feels on seeing our own dear face. Notice she is telling us that it is joy that feels joy! O wonder!

The mention of your name, yes, yours, causes joy to turn in wonder. This is how it works, going out to you / when you least expect. The best kind of happiness – unexpected, unplanned, embodied. It is running up to meet you / when you had not thought / to ask. Rarely do I think to ask for joy and yet, there it is, a gift somewhere in each day, unasked for.

These days it can be difficult to see through the haze of bad news, of this uncertain global time, to find joy. Yet I believe the poet’s message is that joy will find you, will run to meet you if you keep your heart open.

Marvelous how something so intricately interrelated can be captured so precisely in this handful of words. Guess that’s just how joy works. May it find you today.

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