*Joy, Pawan Pandey, Flickr
A monk was befuddled, when the Abbot said to him, "Son, you are much too religious." The confused monk replied, "Father, but am I not vowed to the religious life and to be committed fully to it above all else?" "Yes," said the Abbot, "but I did not tell you not to be committed completely to your religious vocation. I told you that you are much too religious." Still confused, the monk asked, "Father, how can you tell when a monk is too religious?" "Son, when a monk is very pious but not very joyous, he is too religious."
* * *
Several years ago, when a Christian minister, I visited a lady whom I had never met. Her name was Minnie. Minnie lived in a care facility. She had had one leg amputated, and since then had lived in the facility.
A nurse moved Minnie from the dining room into the hall, so she and I could meet. I bent over and placed my hand on Minnie's shoulder. I introduced myself, and we talked. Amazing, for in her eyes, as I saw also her tongue protrude again and again from her mouth, a well of joy sprang forth. Her smile was radiant. We shared prayer.
I left Minnie blessed by her presence, her joy. This woman of faith in Jesus lived in a bed and a wheelchair. Yet, prior to seeing her, I had felt very ill at ease, exhausted. I had concluded it was likely related to the many changes in my life over the several prior weeks. But, when I left Minnie, I left feeling renewed, ministered to by the joy of one whom I had arrived to minister to. She had shared a joy with me that was renewing to my tired body and mind. She had ministered to the minister.
I am confident that Minnie radiated joy due to her relationship with the Spirit of Christ. I had often seen that same joy repeatedly among older Christians confined to bed or chair, at home or care facility, in what would be debilitating living situations for many of us.
Of course, this joy is not Christian, or belonging to any religious faith. This joy is not religious or nonreligious. This joy is a quality of Presence manifesting in and through our body and mind, from the Heart. This joy is our True Nature, our Birthright. However, many persons find a connection with a religious faith or spiritual guide a help in removing the mental and emotional debris blocking this oft subtle bliss. When the bliss arises and fills our whole being, we are feeling the Divine Essence, timeless and boundless. When awakened by this Joy to Joy, we are prepared to share it with others longing for return to our Home, Grace of natural Bliss.
ŠArem Nahariim-Samadhi, 2012. To contact Arem for spiritual guidance, workshops, retreats, ... write at firstname.lastname@example.org .