#2 Joyful Beliefs 2024

The Month for Joyful Beliefs
February 10 to March 21, 2024

“Be Joyful though you have considered all the facts.”
• Wendell Barry

Three poets will guide us through this month of clarifying, understanding, and praising the possibility of believing in joy, of discovering joy, no matter what.

Let us also expand the month’s practice into noticing what beliefs we already hold that offer us joy. For example, here’s one: The Sun Will Come Up Today! Karen Johnson’s pre-dawn photo demonstrates the beauty of that joyful belief.

To the Poets:

The first is Rainer Maria Rilke, who includes these words in his Ninth Elegy, while exploring the question of why we humans live as humans and what our task is as humans:

Here is the home and
the time of the tellable!
Speak out and testify.
This time is the time when
the things we love are dying,
and the things we do not love
are rushing to replace them,
shadows cast by shadows:
things willingly restrained
by temporary confines
but ready to spew forth as
outer change of form decrees.
Between its hammer blows
the heart survives—as does,
between the teeth, the tongue:
in spite of all,
the fount of praise.

As I understand his words, Rilke goes on to recommend that we find the joy that inspires praise in the ordinary, the “crafted things,” those things which dwindle, and that we, even we who dwindle most of all, take them into ourselves, into our “invisible hearts.” Thus transforming them. And ourselves.

Thanks to Jeffrey Baker, this poem from Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer arrived to enrich a recent Intention Circle meeting.


Riding our bikes through the warm summer night,
the dark itself parted to let us pass;
wind in our hair, soft whir of the wheels—
and an almost irrational joy grew in me then,
such simple joy, as if joy were always here,
waiting to flourish, needing only to be noticed.

And is joy latent in everything?
I have felt it sometimes in the washing
of dishes, in mowing the lawn,
in peeling the carrots, even washing
the fishtank and scrubbing the floor.

So could it be, too, inside worried pacing?
In envy? In sighing? In the clenching of fists?
Is there joy where I can’t imagine it?
Joy—waiting to spin like a wheel,
waiting to rise like laughter
that careens through the deepening dark.

These wise words arrived to guide Mary Beth Watt – and all of us – toward believing in joy through practice. As the wise Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us: “It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.”

In Search of Light

Hard to see through darkness and
counting negatives never brings gain.
Resistance cannot shift what is,
you must move forward –
away from clouded thoughts.
from defeating doubts.
Leave barriers as they stand
and seek a simpler path
until you find a place
to stand apart. Dream
your joys, grasp them,
hold them in your heart.
Once you know the truth of your vision
move forward toward the dawn.

Joy in the World. And in me.
Praise. Praise. Praise.


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