Know that joy is rarer, more difficult, and more
beautiful than sadness. Once you embrace this all
important discovery, you must embrace joy as a
moral obligation …

What I dislike least in my former self are the
moments of prayer

André Gide
Autumn Leaves

Strange that a French philosopher should “turn up” whilst I’m rowing in the gym! Except it’s not. Part of the point of the rowing – undemanding enough, “good all-round training” for the body, back and forth, back and forth – is that it affords daily opportunities for precisely such “arrivals”! And to use a bit of cut and paste: what I dislike least [about said rowing] are the moments of prayer.

What strikes me here each morning, alongside the physical exertion and the mental clear-out, is that it’s a cheerful place. I grinned at a guy today who had just spent an impossibly uncomfortable five minutes hanging suspended by up-stretched arms and heaving his own weight up and down, up and down … and wondered why he didn’t stick with the more stately rowing machine. But he grinned back with joy-filled countenance. He was, I thought, “in touch with Source”. Fully alive. Present – what for me, on the rower, is a form of prayer.

Joy, morning by morning, is not so very rare, not even so very difficult, certainly more beautiful than sadness. It’s an unearned gift, something, as C S Lewis implied, that one is surprised by, something that Gide says, is an “all-important discovery” and one “you must embrace”. Or be embraced by. Day by day: open to the need for good maintenance of the body, and open to equal need for good maintenance for the soul.

7 thoughts on “Embrace

  1. Funny (or perhaps not, given the rare, inexplicable connection between us my friend) – I was getting new glasses this morning and spent a lovely half hour with a man from Tennessee who regaled me with stories of his youth, his experience at Woodstock when he was 19, the anticipation he and his wife are feeling at the prospect of becoming grandparents. I felt such joy – this man gave me such a gift. And I recognized it and let it infuse my spirit with arms wide open. Not necessarily as healthy as a trip to the gym, but the endorphins kicked into high gear.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it just fabulous when that happens? And if you tie the story in with your new glasses you’ll be able to keep returning to it. Hey! That’s a nice thought. Every time you use your new spectacles you’ll relate to some joy! Thank you, as ever, for being such a gift. Can’t get that “by the time I got to Woodstock” song-tune out of my head now. Where did it come from? Who was the singer? Do you know? x

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you! – how could I forget? They and Joni Mitchell spent forever talking about it afterwards, but no-one ever better summed up the experience than the young woman who didn’t get there because she was being interviewed on tv for the first time, precisely, about “getting there”. Irony of ironies! “We are stardust, Billion year old carbon” … Oh, those lyrics … x

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