This is a fitting follow-up to my post yesterday.
The title of this blog is Adventure Joy, and I feel like I write a ton about adventure, but not explicitly about joy and how it figures into our lives.
That's because joy is bound up into the adventure. They are linked in a way closer than conjoined twins are linked, closer than a cell that hasn't yet divided.
A couple of Christmases ago, my parents, knowing me oh so well, got me C.S. Lewis' Surprised by Joy. I'd read plenty of Lewis -- all the Narnia books, Till We Have Faces, Mere Christianity, the inimitable Screwtape -- but when I read Surprised by Joy, it was like coming home. No one had ever been able to talk about the longing-joy that I had always felt. That was the first time I knew that someone else had talked about Adventure Joy, though he didn't call it that. That was when I knew I wasn't alone.
Lewis writes about his deep-seated love for Norse myths and his longing for "Northernness." Every now and again we come across stories that talk to our hearts. Tolkien is that for me. For Lewis, it was Northernness (as in, Norse-ness). This longing, deeply tied up with the notion and the concept of The North, was Lewis' first taste of the capital-L longing that he would come to chase throughout his life. He associated it first with those Norse stories and that culture thereof that he experienced as a boy. As he went through his schooling, he lost the sense of that Longing, which he called Joy, but it was only when he started to fall back in love with what he had loved as a boy that he found Joy again.
And then he started to chase it, to chase the sensation of Joy, and that was utterly self-defeating, because the point of Joy/Longing is that it's on the horizon, in the mountain peaks you see in the distance. It's not something you can lay hold of. You encounter it, and it lures you into the sunrise-line; you do not lay hold of it. You cannot chase it in and of itself. It is something that sneaks up on you and surprises you and you want to feel like this for the rest of your life and at the same time you have an itch that cannot be scratched, but is begging for it.
This, mes amis, is why I don't write about joy: how do we do it?
This is 31 Days of Calling, though, and what I do know is this: calling brings joy.
The end. We could just stop there.
To follow calling brings us joy.
We are always wanting more of it, and that is the thing that pulls us like a fish with a hook in its mouth, pulls us further up and further in, like something is attached to our heart and tugging us along.
There is longing and at the same time, while longing, we are utterly full. We are lacking and we are deeply satiated.
This is the paradox that I cannot explain but I know is true.
It's like the more I sing, the more I feel like I could never sing enough. The more I fall in love, again and again and ever again, with opera and with the sensations of my voice.
The more I sing and write, the more I become healed, and the more addicted I become. Calling is some trippy form of drug, with the side-effect of joy.
Or is that really a side-effect? Could it be that following the inner voice, the Inner Witness -- could it be that the whole point of that is the joy we receive from it? Can it be that that joy is what really talks to the world around us -- the joy of being fully who you are in Christ? The fullness-longing of becoming who you were made to be?
Our work does matter, yes. But maybe what leaves a deeper imprint on the air in which we move is the gold and silver light radiating from us. The joy-glow.
Calling brings us joy, and it is for this reason that I will continue to follow it until the day I die (and probably in the life that comes after that, because I have a sneaking suspicion that it doesn't end with the death of my physical body).
Following calling is a drug, and I can't quit it.
There's an old hymn called "How Can I Keep From Singing?" When I was a junior in undergrad my Women's Chorale sang an arrangement of it. After the summer of despair, coming back to singing and beginning again in earnest -- it saved me, and I realized I couldn't stop singing if I tried. Because believe me, sports fans, I've tried.
I can't stop singing, and I can't stop writing -- not only because they make me more myself, not only because if I don't do them I become cranky and moody and weird -- but also, mainly, primarily because they bring me joy.
And that's the long and short of it.
Calling brings us joy. Do we need a better reason to cannonball into living into our vox vocation?
We are called, and we are longing, and we are full, and we are journeying, and we are also home.