Our capacity for joy is in proportion to our capacity for sorrow, so the more we resist our grief, the more we also resist the treasure of joy available to us in abundant measure. Not the bitterness and resentment that Benedict counsels us to avoid, but the deep wells of sorrow we each carry within our hearts over losses and brokenness, betrayals and wounding. Following our principle of inner hospitality, we are called to welcome in these feelings, and in the process we carve out space for joy and love as well.
In St. Benedict’s description of humility, he says the 6th step is contentment. Contentment is one of those principles we find in other traditions as well. In yogic practice it is called santosha, and both mean a commitment to be with the truth of our experience and find a measure of peace and joy with what you have.
Contentment helps us to let go of our expectations for what might be and to rest in the grace of what is.
Finding contentment with this moment is a very monastic practice and opens us to the possibility of joy. One of the definitions I sometimes give for an artist is that the artist creates out of the materials given. When we can live our lives in such a way that we accept the truth of our situation, and then seek to create from it, whether beauty or more peace or a way of honoring the grief, then we become artists of our everyday lives. The artist does not wait for some better materials to come along first. The artist does not say, I will only dance when I am thinner or healthier.
I describe this as creative joy, because we most often tap into it when we are engaged in creative activity like art or dance, or when we are in the midst of nature witnessing the Great Artist at work. But we can also access creative joy in the midst of friendship, when we find our way through conflict to a deeper sense of intimacy. Or through cooking a beautiful meal with the ingredients we have on hand. Or discovering that in the midst of our tenderness and vulnerability comes a great softening which allows us to finally ask for the support we need.
~Christine Valters Paintner
a beauteous time of listening in to creative flow
inquiry for today~ wind it down to the essentials of flow, imagination, trust….
A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.