A Year of Joy, Part 2: July to December
On this third Sunday of Advent, referred to as Gaudete (Latin for “rejoice”) Sunday in Christian tradition, I am revisiting the meaning of joy in what has been a challenging year.
As a spiritual exercise on this Gaudete Sunday, I’ve chosen a photo from each month of 2023 to represent a moment that brought me joy this year. In case you missed it, you can read A Year of Joy- Part 1: January to June by following the link.
I started publishing Accidental Mentors: Inspirational Stories of Women Who Shaped my Life by Just Being Themselves in May and wrapped it up in September. By July, I didn’t know if I could keep up the pace I had set for myself. But, despite the fact that I was struggling with the side-effects of chemo, I made it through. I didn’t want to disappoint you, my readers, or myself. Thank you. You brought me joy and encouragement by reading my work.
When these two boys planted these sunflowers and gifted them to me to aid in my recovery, they had no idea what potential they had. Their faces tell it all.
No words could have brought comfort in a time of grief, but this little bear found a way. When I shared the story I wrote about how Earth Bear came to be a messenger of love, my dear sister Janice gifted me with this photo. Joy comes with knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life.
In the midst of chemo this past summer, I couldn’t have imagined that by October I’d be able to drive 3,506 miles. The people I visited, the natural beauty I saw, and the freedom of being on the road restored my self-confidence. It also reminded me of how privileged I am and of the responsibility I have to share what I’ve been given.
The signatures on this banner represent commitment and re-commitment to one of the passions of my life. In 2014, I played a part in starting a movement to end racism. It gives me great joy when others pledge to join in this effort.
I love parades. I love them because they represent the best of us. All kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds smile and laugh together while we celebrate our community. Feeling community pride brings joy to more than just the parade participants and watchers, it impacts us all.
While I was writing this, a neighbor, Ruth, stopped by with a poinsettia and a jar of her homemade bread and butter pickles. Hanging from the jar is a quote from Marcel Proust:
Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.
I believe that joy is a by-product of blooming souls. May your week, your year-end, and your new year be filled with moments that make your soul bloom, and may they bring you joy.
As a bonus, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite childhood photos of my brother, me, and Santa. Although you can’t see the joy on our faces, I know it’s there somewhere!
I hope you’ll share something in the Comments that has brought you joy this year.
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