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Location: Clearwater, South Carolina, United States

Sunday, October 30, 2005


The last few lines of an old (1888) poem reads:

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.

It seems to me that there is not much joy where we live either – wherever that may be. Pondering why this appeared to be true, I went to the dictionary to see the actual meaning of the word. Joy is defined as a feeling or state of great delight or happiness, as caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying. While this describes a very wonderful condition, it didn’t seem to contain the depth, height or intensity I had expected. There had to be more.

Further reflection brought me to the conclusion that I hadn’t heard the word used but very little outside the Christmas season or a few references at church. Thinking this odd, I asked about this among several acquaintances and they had not either. Could it be that folks were not feeling joy anymore, or were they just using another word for it? Enjoy is a related word – first cousin on it’s mother’s side – but it is much less intense. This because you can enjoy any number of experiences, things or even food – I have even enjoyed watching caterpillars or eating banana pudding - this latter item being right at the top of the scale.

Seeking another word that was being used instead of joy, I reached into the dictionary and pulled out the word “glad” and held it lightly between the fingers of my mind. This was a very meaningful term and just the considering of it made me . . . glad. But it can be a very temporary condition or experience, plus the height or depth can vary greatly. An example can be found in the sentence: I was glad the truck didn’t hit me, but it did run over my toes.

Back in the book of definitions, I delighted in finding the word “delight”. This unit of discourse was definitely in the right direction. Anyone with children or grandchildren knows the true meaning of this word can be found and defined in the actions of these little ones. Almost anything can delight them – from having a butterfly light on their hand to watching a large purple dinosaur on TV. As wonderful as the word is, even considering the fact that we humans are very cyclical in our feelings and emotions, it was still too transient to describe what I was looking for.

Then I went to an ancient Book of Truth and found many references for joy, and several that mentioned great joy. Now this was more like it! Another passage even alluded to exceeding great joy and I knew I was in the right place. It seemed to be that the deepest and highest meaning of joy could only be found in the context of friendship with the One that inspired the writing of the Book. Then there was the verse that told of the possibility of an inexpressible and glorious joy – that’s as good as it gets, and it’s available in this life - all that can be said is wow!

That last was the definition that describes what I feel on occasion. I would have to have a renewed body to stand much more of that kind of joy – hey, maybe there’s something in there about that too . . . ec


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