The joy-seeker and the griever


I have always been the joy-seeker in every flower, every butterfly, every fleeting moment of joy between people, every laugh, every warm bath, every cool of night. This is something that was in me as a small child and has never left me since. No matter how dark my mood, I am still on the joy hunt, the hunt for the ecstasy of discovery, beauty, or love. This habit has not been drowned even in a sea of depression and anxiety.

I have also always been a griever. The dead, the dying, the death of things beautiful. I look forward to grief and back on it, and that is part of how I was made. Perhaps it would be better to say I am a rememberer. I catch all the joys in my net, and mourn their passing. All the joy of a grandpa, for instance, still caught fluttering my net, but now remembered joy with no chance for more until I get to heaven with him. I grieve the little joys I miss because certain people are no longer in my life.


And so, you will find me crouched often in fields and forests, camera clicking, catching memories. The yellow butterflies drifting around on the orange cone of the purple echinacea thrill me even when my mood is grey.


I focus, for a moment, quite literally on these butterfly wings flitting, and click, click, click, my camera is capturing beauty. I leave the field with part of grief shaved off. Yet to have summer flying by so fast this year, me inside more than usual, losing out on the fun trips to town because I can't stand to be around that many people, missing out on pools splashing and kids hooting and hay being cut...I grieve summer's passing as I sit in my swing after dusk, admiring the sky.


She is "brown as a berry from riding the prairie", my brownest, Rosalie. I sit with her in the sun, I with a book, and her with her contemplation. We mourn the summer's passing together, she focusing on the pool now a light green from algae, I as I listen to the faint rustle through grass turning stiff in preparation for it's death in autumn.


In my chair last night, I watch headlights weave through the ground fog, autumn's chill squeezing down on hot summer fields full of hay bales. The early summer song of the frogs in the pond has given way to the the maestros of late summer crickets in their deafening symphony. I wrap a prayer shawl around my shoulders and try not to count the losses of the summer, only the gains. God grins at me through the Big Dipper, which has floated down from it's high summer position down low over the shadowy line of black hills demarcating the edge of our little valley. Soon the constellation will flip on it's back and look like a dipper again, all through the winter. The kids and I will again talk about the time Laura Ingall's family had cholera and how they got it from the contaminated dipper.

I tuck myself into my blankets at night, like a chrysalis, praying to emerge the butterfly I once was when I unroll into the cold morning. I grieve the person I once was, but also mine for joy as that person re-emerges. My therapist laughs a belly laugh and I know something is changing.

So I hang on a thread between joy and grief, a thread made of prayers and God's Word, the only strength holding me up now. I read Psalm 19, and the joy-seeker with the gathered memories remembers: Uncle Jim (no longer my uncle) and his raspy tenor waltzing through his yellow mustache as he and my dad sang a song from Psalm 19 late into the night in a narrow trailer where we packed seven children and four adults, all floors covered with slumber:
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. ~Psalm 19:7-11 KJV