Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Touch More on Joy

I've been thinking more about joy. It is a fruit, after all, and fruit takes time to ripen on the branch or vine.

One can pray for joy and believe and then live it. This is true in concept, but the final part needs some fine-tuning, for joy is deep, and surface joy is not the joy of the Holy Spirit, for it is tenuous and of the emotions. Like peace, joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and fruit takes time to grow and ripen; even after seeming ripe, it often requires more time to ripen on the counter! So, I don't want readers to be disappointed if they pray and believe--and wonder: where is the joy? We cooperate with God; God grants the graces and the ripe fruit of the Holy Spirit when He wills best. Even then, fruit can have all kinds of exterior (and even sometimes interior blemishes). But a peach is a peach, even with bruises and bird-pecks.

Fruit of the Holy Spirit are very interior for the most part. I suppose I started thinking more about joy given the recent comments, and yes, it is quite a gift. But the Carthusian I have been reading also mentions joy as well as peace, and he says that we must not be discouraged if the surface irritations continue; the peace (and) joy are still with us, in us. Yes, it is that the fruit is on the vine or branch, even if it is still yet very small and not noticed. I think this is the point the beautiful soul who encourages us to pray, to believe and to live the joy intends: that we must cooperate with God in faith, and to ask for these gifts, and that God will bring them. He gives the fruit through the Holy Spirit as gifts: God wants us to have them.

We all maybe know of persons or ourselves who tried to make joy happen, or make peace happen, on our own. It is good to practice and to have a joyful disposition through effort; but we often enough find that it is not enduring peace or joy, and what we saw or experienced was emotion, or the feeling of peace of joy for a short time. Well, this is better than not having peace of joy for short period of time. But what the person commenting is no doubt expressing, is that joy which is enduring. And this does take asking for it, and praying, and then, of course, we must wait for the grace to come from God, even if we do our best in waiting and cooperating.

The Carthusian emphasizes that even if we cannot go beyond what suffering does to our human bodies, or that we are weak and our exteriors do not always show peace or joy, that we simply can offer to God our weakness, our suffering, our negativities or lackings--and God is pleased with our offerings of our weaknesses and failings. For we have given Him our best and our only--and He loves whatever we give Him.

These fruit of the Holy Spirit more often than not come after a good growing season, and this can be more than days or months. The important thing to remember is to pray and ask, then to hang on the branch, and grow and wait, and cooperate with all the things that fruit do as they grow and ripen, and then don't be alarmed if your joy has some blemishes, inside or out; for this is natural. Fruit is natural, and the joy or peace or self-control or whatever fruit of the Spirit you've prayed for and in faith have received, and then waited for it to ripen to
fruition, might result in something you don't feel or don't see, or others might not see it; but you will know it is there, deep inside, for the pit is always in the fruit; the seed remains hidden but very real.

Or, others might see it, might notice, but likely they will just sense some kind of change. As Caryll Houselander explained, it is as well to not discuss too much, the growth, but to just let it happen and let it be. Yes, take all the fruit the Spirit has to offer! Taste and see! Does not this advice come in the Psalms? And similar fruit talk in the Song of Songs? I'm not sure, but it seems like there are many fruit references in that beautiful Scripture.

Joy is close to peace in how it might appear--softly, subtly, but surely. We are desirous of the joy that endures and is not topical joy, for with abiding joy we can glorify God more abundantly. Fruit that remains on the vine a good long time is matured fruit.

Yes, I think that the beautiful soul who reminds us to pray for joy, to believe that we have it, and then to live it, would agree with the waiting and ripening aspects, also. God knows best when the fruit is ripe for the plucking and tasting and sharing.

The Carthusian even points out in his writing on peace and joy, that sometimes it might seem as if we no longer have these, but they are there deep within, all the same; and again, we must simply offer our sense of being empty, our sense of not having joy or peace: offer it all to God as gift, and glorify Him with our weaknesses, for within our emptying there is fullness of love in giving all of our selves to God.


Blogger Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

great reflection...

5:47 AM  

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