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Where is my Joy?
by Bill Simpson
Some years ago as I was walking down the street from the office where I worked, on my way to lunch, I noticed a man in his late thirties, selling candy, gum and cigarettes from a little table set up at the corner of a major intersection.

As I walked by, I realized that he was sitting in a wheel chair and had only a limited ability to use his hands or to speak.

As I continued to pass his stand, day after day, I started to say hello as I went by, and as time continued to pass, we developed a relationship in which I stopped to talk for a few minutes each day at lunch time.

Initially, my motivation was to do a little good for someone else. However, as I was walking away from one of our discussions, I realized for the first time that I was feeling better than I did before I had walked up to him.

It suddenly dawned on me that I was receiving more than I was giving.

For quite awhile I�ve been involved in a choir that visits convalescent homes on a regular basis, singing for the patients.

When we arrive, ten to fifteen patients are lined up in the television room, all sitting in wheelchairs, usually staring into space, with a gray, deadened look on their faces. As we begin to sing (usually songs from the 30�s and 40�s; songs they remember), the transformation begins: Color returns to their cheeks, soon, their eyes look up at us in recognition and within the blink of an eye they are singing and clapping along with us � smiling and happy.

Before you know it, other patients are moving down the hall toward the music; staff and other visitors are magnetically drawn; all sharing and regenerating the mysterious magic of love. It�s pretty difficult to get through a performance with a dry eye.

The first miracle of our giving is the reawakening of the patients.

But, the second, and perhaps deeper miracle is that the choir, and each individual within it, is also transformed. Our initial sense of love and compassion is transformed into Rejoicing!

Where in the world is that Joy coming from?

I�m not sure. Clearly it has something to do with helping others, but I think there�s more to it than that. There�s something about getting ourselves out of the way.

In those brief moments when I put the man on the corner before myself, what flowed through me filled me with Joy, on the way to bringing him love.

When, through some grace, the choir forgets itself and radiates the love that flows through it, each of us exalts in that same indescribable Joy.

I know that as a parent, in those early days when our children were so tiny I could hold them in the palms of my hands, they were so helpless, and so dependent on us to love and sustain them, that it was impossible to not give them every ounce of our love and caring. And, we were transformed in a way that has not grown stale, but only deepened with the years.

It is becoming clearer to me that the more I let go of my petty concerns and fears and attachments to the outcome of things, the more something wonderful and mysterious works through me to bless myself and others.

There�s Joy hiding out there somewhere � just beyond our self!

I guess the final question is how do we get ourselves out of the way, so the joy can come through?

I learned an affirmation from a great saint that seems to explain one way. It has been worth my effort in learning and repeating it through the years:

�I relax and cast aside all mental burdens,
Allowing God to express through me
His perfect love, peace and wisdom.�

� Bill Simpson