Ed. Note: John and Peter’s online/dial-up conversation with Edd Conboy on August 4 inspired a thought-provoking email exchange with Jeannie Masterson on scarcity, gifts, joy and abundance. Enjoy!
Peter, John, Edd –
I listened to your conversation today, enjoying and being stretched. I then went on to prepare prayer services for my team, and came across this poem by Mary Oliver that I thought was pertinent to today’s topic. Enjoy!
Jeannie Masterson, CSJ
Don’t Hesitate (Mary Oliver in Swan)
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb
Dear Sister Jeannie;
A wonderful poem. Thank you. Why do you think we hesitate to “give in” to joy?
Dear Sister Jeannie,
I’d like to add my thanks for the poem as well.
When thinking of joy, I often recall a talk I attended by Lama Chime Rinpoche, one of the lamas displaced from Tibet along with the Dalai Lama. He was speaking to his students, and he said, “It is your responsibility to sustain joy in your life … and that is very serious business…” and then he began to laugh.
Joy is a wonderfully deep word. Neither he nor Mary Oliver were speaking of happiness.
Maybe we instinctively know that if we were to “give in” to joy, there would be no turning back … and that is serious business!
Just a thought.
Thanks to all of you – to think that people as busy as you would respond so quickly to a simple email – WOW!!! That certainly makes me “give in” to joy!
Personally, I believe our culture has become so obsessed with scarcity, so afraid of being without, that we simply don’t know how to think otherwise … so we react to gift with suspicion rather than embrace. Folks like you are helping us change the cultural mindset by pointing out another way, and asking, “How else might you respond? What alternatives are you willing to consider?”
I’m grateful to you: for your witness by example, your willingness to host conversations like yesterday’s that highlight an effective alternative that keeps sparking our juices to be serious about the business of joy.
In my religious profession, we’re challenged to bring people to real, deep belief that WE ARE ALREADY REDEEMED! Our work is to help one another to live in a way that expresses that belief, which is also serious and joyful business.
- Seeing Blue (Conboy)
- A Place at the Table (Conboy/McKnight/Block conversation transcription)
- A Place at the Table (audio)