Beauty,  Faith,  Grief,  Life


Joy is my middle name.

Not happy.

Not flippant.

Not sparkling rays over perpetual blooms and grass that tastes like candy.


Desperate and scrappy.

Joy is not my partner’s smile. It’s the kindness in his crinkles which cover two decades of wounding and repairing.

Joy is not my dog’s scruff. It’s the affection of a pure-hearted creature who doesn’t know, like I do, that her longest life is still so short.

Joy is not the positive pregnancy test, it’s the promise of life when loss permeates even the noblest hopes I stick high up in the sky where the sun always shines.

Joy invites you to stand on shaky ground. Never ignore the cracks, in fact, pay closer attention… There. Do you see it? Something grows from fractured earth.

There are colors we can only see when we peer into the chasm we’re straddling instead of closing our eyes with drink or drug or another episode or a few more reels.

Joy takes courage. It takes grit. It takes surrender and vulnerability and most of all trust. Joy doesn’t wait for permission to live, but does need your consent to live with you. It’s not trying to play hard to get, it just is.

Hard like the floor your bones press your skin to in the military housing that feels like a prison when he’s gone and the bonds you make over tears and confessions that free you.

Hard to wrap your fingers around because joy requires open hands. Hard to steal for anyone other than yourself because joy requires you go straight to the Source.

“Joy comes in the morning,” arm in arm with hope like the March sisters skipping to give their meal away, pulling back the veil between fed and destitute. And sorrow is a cousin. A nineteenth century cousin who is close and whom you also might marry.

While we’re here, I must say, joy doesn’t need an enemy in happiness. There is nothing wrong with happy. But it’s a puppy who tugs on your pant leg and invites a chase. It can be elusive and we are prone to obsession. We fill balloons with happy and try to float above the chasm.

Which is fine. You know what? We’re not stupid. We do it because we’re afraid and we have every right to be. Even when you’ve visited the abyss and found the glimmers there, the colors, found the light overcoming the dark, it’s still scary. The chasm is wide and deep and we haven’t been to every part of it.

So joy is a patient promise and you don’t need to chase it. It meets you when you’re brave and able and doesn’t need an explanation. If you’ll have it, joy will even raise a glass to what it took to get you there and celebrate the time between. Joy is not afraid to insert itself into places it has no business being, like your past, your memory, the things you thought were written down already, ink dried. Joy doesn’t mind scratching things into the margins.

I was here.

No you weren’t.

I was now.

Joy holds the thorns with the roses and admits that it hurts while in awe of the blooms. Joy shouts and joy whispers, gyrates and sways. whoops and sobs. Joy is audacious, rebellious, courageous. A commitment, a presence, a calm.

And joy is my middle name.

One Comment

  • Jessica

    Oh, how I love this! The March sisters skipping ahead, tearing the veil between fed and destitute. These are life giving words. Every word in this post is so full of truth and life, and hard won grit. As always, I’m ready to volunteer at your book tables whenever you do a signing.

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