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Happy New Year . . . No Matter What

Here we are on Thursday, January 1st, 2015!

And if I could, I’d give you a big hug and dance you all around the room.

Because this year my theme is JOY.

And that includes everything from quiet, still, gratitude, to the full out, heart-bursting kind of laughter you can’t contain—the kind that splashes over into everything you do, radiating out in big, warm waves.

This is my definition of success moving forward this year.

Joy in all its glorious forms.

And yet . . .

Many of us feel guilty about having fun or experiencing pleasure when there is so much suffering in the world.

It seems wrong somehow, to be laughing while elsewhere in the world, someone is experiencing a daily kind of horror.

Jack Gilbert says it best in his poem “A Brief For The Defense”

Sorrow everywhere

Slaughter everywhere

If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else.

But we must enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants.

That’s a pretty bold statement to make.

God wants us to enjoy our lives?

That’s not what I learned as a child. Raised in fundamental religion, I got the idea that suffering was a requirement for holiness. That the hard pews and the long sermons and humorless hymns were a reflection of God’s personality.

Happiness didn’t fit into the equation.

Joy seemed to take away from the serious business of salvation and Christ’s suffering upon the cross.

It took me a long time to untangle myself from this mindset.

But I did.

And when I finally made a decision to stop bowing and scraping as an on-going act of repentance, I discovered something that had me tap-dancing across the room.

Something bumper-stickers have been saying for years.

God is love.

Not religion. Not dogma. Not rules. Not judgment. Not suffering. Not sickness.

Not pain. Not punishment.

Just LOVE.

And love, my friend, is all about joy.

It’s all about laughter and delight and appreciation and pleasure and mirth.

No matter what.

Yes, I know there’s an endless parade of horror being shown on the daily news.

But don’t let this spotlight on misery amplify it in your mind—tricking you into believing there’s more evil than good in this world.

It’s simply not true.

As Gilbert says in his beautiful poem,

There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta.

I believe it’s this laughter that keeps us in balance.

The world NEEDS our joy. It needs silliness and shenanigans and foolhardy grins.

Humor is the handmaiden to love. And love is the greatest healing force in the universe.

So when you say “Happy New Year” this month, I want you to mean it.

Let’s stand in defence for joy.

Let's be the light in the darkness that never goes out.

Sending you so much love,


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