“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” ~ Walt Whitman
Before anything, let us turn to the world of language according to Miriam-Webster and its definition of Joy:
1: the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires
b: the expression or exhibition of such emotion
2: a state of happiness or felicity
3: a source or cause of delight
When speaking about joy, it is almost always considered as a good, wholesome, healthy product of something said, heard, done, or experienced. Joy is, in many ways, a byproduct of a life well lived. That is at the heart of Whitman’s quote today, “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
If you study the scriptures, especially the New Testament, you will quickly encounter occasion after occasion of events that produced joy: the curing of sick people, the healing of cripples, the cleansing of lepers, and the raising of the dead just to mention a few. Jesus, as well as the apostles and disciples after Jesus’ ascension, left a wake of happy people behind after all that they said and did.
Bringing words of peace and comfort can bring joy. Effecting healing of mind, body, or spirit, can bring joy. Meeting the needs of others can bring joy. The wonderful part of this commission of the Lord to serve others is that joy is brought not only to the recipient but the giver as well.
Ministers have said over and over again that they experienced great joy when they went out to serve others. Those served, of course, spoke about experiencing great joy as they received the Eucharist brought to them, a friendly visit, or some other manner of kindness and affection.
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” What a wonderful saying and thought. I do believe that our world would be much different — much more kind and loving — if every person, each day, would look at himself or herself in the mirror with as much intensity as possible and say to himself or herself, “Do anything, but let it produce joy.”
Good joy. Healthy joy. Holy joy. That would be a wondrous balm in a world steeped in greediness, selfishness, and pain. Be that balm.
FAITH ACTION: Make sure that what you do and say this day can be a source of joy for others as well as for yourself.