Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ode to Joy

A little over a year ago Joy Carney passed away. My friend Gini is her daughter and at the time of her mother's passing there was little that I could say to comfort or encourage her. Joy's death was unexpected and unexplained and one could not contend with it without questioning "why?". Over a year has passed and the answers are still unknown. And though they say time heals all pain, the passage of time has not made the incomprehensible any easier to understand.

Despite a decade-long friendship with Gini, I can't say I really knew her mom. Joy was a constant figure in my friend's life but my interactions with her were brief and inconsistent. I heard stories about her and had created a caricature of who she was as a wife, mother and woman. However, all children tend to be selective as they recount their parents' deeds and I'm sure Gini was no exception. Yet even with this lack of firsthand knowledge of who Joy was, I feel well equipped to write of her legacy. I experience it every day in the lives of those she raised.

Joy's death was the first in a long string of events that besought circumstances in her family's life that humanity was not meant to deal with. In the midst of these circumstances they cling to their faith and seek to thwart all attempts to weaken the spiritual foundation which she imparted to them. Not only do they hold tightly to their spiritual heritage, they cling fiercely to the bonds of family - practically daring outside forces to tear them apart. Lastly, they strive to recognize the goodness that exists in little things knowing that circumstances are temporal, but joy is everlasting.

I think those of us who are Christians have the same opportunity to leave a legacy of joy. I believe that after love, joy should be the condition by which others define us. This joy comes from possessing the peace that passes understanding and by recognizing that God is, and all else is insignificant. This is a legacy that not only has an immediate impact but lasts for generations to come.

In her kitchen, Gini has a sign that features the exhortation - "Scatter Joy". It serves as a reminder to her of who her mom is and how she wants to live. May each of us do the same.

"Of one hundred men, one will read the Bible; the ninety-nine will read the Christian." - Dwight L. Moody quoted by Philip Yancey in What's So Amazing About Grace?



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Ode to Joy