When Mother Teresa was building her order, she placed high value in joy. She knew that her sisters would see some of the most horrific sights and care for the most disgusting wounds, and –as we would later find out– she knew that they would often live months at a time without sense that God was near.
I recently heard a beautiful rendition of “Jesus the Center of my Joy.” Gorgeous. The lyrics spoke of lonely places and troubling circumstances. It posed that essential question: how can I remain joyful? Joy is not a blissfulness ignorant of life’s trials. Joy is not a conjured-up faithfulness to a promise we once made, way back. Joy is a wild spruce that endures through harsh winters. It nourishes itself from the soil of defiance, drinks from the dregs of mercy, and stretches itself in abandon to the sun– knowing full well it will never touch that orb, which shoots forth its warming rays. Joy endures the hardest of seasons.
I love how Mother Teresa put it:
A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. Joy is not simply a matter of temperament, it is always hard to remain joyful – all the more reason why we should try to acquire it and make it grow in our hearts. Joy is prayer; joy is strength; joy is love. She gives most who gives with joy.
To children and to the poor, to all those who suffer and are lonely, give them always a happy smile; give them not only your care but also your heart. We may not be able to give much, but we can always give the joy that springs from a heart that is filled with love.