Make Joy a Priority
By Michael Norris Waddell of Bloomington, IN, USA
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. —Colossians 3:14–15 NRSV
When my brothers and I poured our dad’s ashes into Lake Superior, a white feather appeared floating on top of the cloudy water. Feathers have always held significance for me, so this meant a lot to me. Since that day, often when I least expect it, a white feather appears. I always think of it as my dad saying, “Hello,” and reminding me he’s still around… somewhere.
On the fifth anniversary of his passing, I walked in the woods. I noticed a single, white feather sitting on top of the frozen creek. I lay down on my stomach on the icy, muddy bank to get this photo. Hi, Dad.
An ordinary walk in the woods turned into a mood-lifting, soul-filling, spirit-enriching experience, and with it came thoughts I wanted to share. Call these my wishes for you on the edge of a new year.
In the coming new year, allow yourself moments of stillness to see signs. They are everywhere. Regardless of your beliefs—be they in science and the natural order, belief in a creator, or some combination— you have to admit the beautiful and generous planet on which we live is awesome and points to a power greater than us.
There are infinite, complex worlds below us, above us, and within. Listen to them. See them. Feel them. And look for signs that speak to you—almost inaudibly—about that for which you look. Love each other. There’s too much prejudice and pain in the world. Being kind and taking care of one another is a light we have to shine in the darkness during our brief time here.
Be thankful. If we stop and think about how incredible it is that we are here at all, we’ll be grateful for each breath and moment. When you find yourself in pain or fear, remember it is temporary. The clouds move, the tide rolls, the seasons turn, and so will your life. Learn from the darkness, too. The greatest lesson sometimes comes from choosing the wrong fork in the road.
Laugh. It heals and infects. Take care of yourself, body and mind. Be mindful of what your body and brain need to keep them feeling good. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should do or believe. Take wisdom and encouragement where you can, but listen to your inner voice. Make joy a priority. Love one another… yes, I say it again. Be on the lookout for signs of love. Happiness in the new year to all of you. Shalom.
Prayer for Peace
We would choose your light, God, and not be separate from you. We would choose peace.
Spiritual Practice: What Matters Most
Prayerfully seek God’s guidance in your choices. The practice of discernment invites us to orient our lives toward God and God’s vision for us and creation. Begin by reviewing the responsibilities and opportunities in the day before you. Take these choices into prayer, asking God for wisdom and insight about what matters most.
Today, God, I will look for signs of hope; I will listen for sounds of joy; I will respond to acts of love, and ponder my part in peace.