The joy that Jesus offers his disciples is his own joy, which flows from his intimate communion with the one who sent him. It is a joy that does not separate happy days from sad days, successful moments from moments of failure, experiences of honor from experiences of dishonor, passion from resurrection. This joy is a divine gift that does not leave us during times of illness, poverty, oppression, or persecution. It is present even when the world laughs or tortures, robs or maims, fights or kills. It is truly a static, always moving us away from the House of fear into the House of love, and always proclaiming that death no longer has the final say, though its noise remains loud and its devastation visible. The joy of Jesus lifts up life to be celebrated.

—From “Lifesigns” by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Until we understand and enter the truth of the very first sentence of this offering by Nouwen, it is impossible to enter into the magnificence of the remaining truths. Joy can’t be obtained by right theology, dualistic swordplay, declarations of, “I’m right, you’re wrong,” externals of any kind, winning or trophies, or any other religious activity that serves or attempts to validate earned righteousness. Joy comes from another realm altogether. It is maintained by intimacy: a “knowing,” downloaded only by prolonged exposure to the ultimate Source of joy. A belief system cannot deliver this. This is about Spirit-to-spirit communion. Direct contact with Joy itself.

You’ll know when you’ve met a person who lives in that flow. They’re different. I’ve met a few in my lifetime. They’ve made the move from the House of fear to the House of love. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Maybe I’ll get there myself someday. Hopefully, all of us will. —MDP

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