“What’s with the bracelet?” he asked.
The cuff in question, made of brightly colored fabric and secured with two snaps, circled my left wrist. Across the top, the word, ‘joy’ was written on a piece of frayed ivory canvas. I was making my rounds at physical therapy - moving from arm bike, to squats and leg lifts – when the young therapist posed his question.
“I made it,” I said – an honest answer, but short of the full truth.
“Oh,” he said, “do you make jewelry?”
The conversation moved on and did not circle back around, the moment was lost. I was left mulling my reticent reply and wishing I’d been clearer.
Have you ever lost something and, when you found it again, you wanted to do everything you could to keep from losing it again? That's how it is for me and joy. So, I made a bracelet in all the brightest colors, the happy, vibrant ones, and wrote the word “joy” on it. I wear it to remember to hold on to joy.
I don’t know what that young man would have said had I unloaded my frightfully serious reasoning on him that day. But, I wish I had, because it was the truth and sharing truth with others often helps solidify it in the deepest parts of ourselves.
This summer, as I prepare to transition from working at home to working at a church again, I’ve been looking over these past seven years of life and taking an inventory of sorts. What have I been given in this time that I want to carry with me for the work ahead?
One these gifts is joy - the reminder to cultivate and choose it, to recognize it not as an optional add-on to the spiritual life, but as a fruit of the spirit, an essential marker of the presence (or absence) of God in each of our lives. To remind myself of this truth, I made a small painting to hang in my new office, a painting filled with gorgeous colors, patterns and textures and one simple word: joy.