Joy in the Moment
The doctor led me into a tiny room off the nursery at the Chicago hospital where our second daughter, Amber, was born. A sad-faced nurse entered and put the very still little baby in my arms.
After a long and arduous labor, fraught with complications for the baby, our daughter was not expected to live. Medical interventions could not seem to change that trajectory. The kind pediatrician wanted me to savor my remaining time with her in privacy. I should have been grateful, but I was filled with a deep and terrifying fear and dread.
It was a touchstone moment for me. Randy had just left to spend some time with our 7-year-old daughter, Gretchen. This was long before the instant communication afforded by cell phones. I was alone. Since there was no one to advise or distract me, I focused on what was right in front of me. I unwrapped the baby’s blanket and caressed every inch of her cool, bluish-grey skin. Then I placed her close against my bare chest. I rocked her and tried to let her feel the depth of my love. I knew God was present with us because an unexplainable and overwhelmingly deep peace settled over us in that little space.
To this day, I cannot say how long we sat there. Maybe it was 20 minutes, maybe an hour, when I became aware that the baby was moving and restlessly rooting for her source of nourishment. Suddenly she was nursing...for the first time in the three days since she was born! I could scarcely breathe while I tried not to let hope run away with my heart. I saw a sweet pink color begin to diffuse her skin. That’s when I felt it. JOY began to bubble up inside my chest.
When I think of joy, I imagine a kind of total immersion in happiness involving all or most of one’s senses. As I write this, I can still recall the FEEL of that tiny body nestled against me, SMELL that sweet baby fragrance, and HEAR the sounds of her enthusiastic feeding. I will never forget the SIGHT of her whole body infusing with color and life. And I TASTED joy!
Fast forward 40 years, and this is what I have learned...I cannot produce joy. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Things were not instantly better for our daughter. Her journey to health was not linear, nor have all the circumstances of her life since been easy and carefree. We do always say, however, that she doesn’t take up much space because she continues to joyfully live her life “on the edge!”
I’ve also learned that although I cannot produce joy, I can expect it. It is difficult to be joy-filled when I am looking at life only through my own lens. When I look through God’s eyes, it is possible to see the beauty in a moment, and focus on something for which I am grateful. I am grateful that God is present with me in everything, and joy inhabits gratitude!
My prayer is that each of us will be given a more profound awareness of God’s presence...today, this Christmas, and every day. Where does YOUR heart live? In re-thinking the past, or worrying about the future? Look and see if you can’t find JOY in this present moment.
Karen is a woman “of a certain age,” who has been a business woman, church lady, wife, mother, and grandma. She especially enjoys being a part of the Imago Dei Hot Mess Sisters Book Club...because she fits right in!