Reflection: Systemic Joy
By Jane Lee Wolfe
Joy is a state we adore but believe to be rare and limited. Occasions for joy arrive randomly, and for the life of us we can’t figure out how to package or sustain them. We are, of course, looking in all the wrong places. Joy is with us always, and its principal access is internal, not dependent on external happenings.
Enter systemic joy. We are raised unaware of this eternal and available reality. This is tragic, and on a par of being raised unaware of clean, clear and drinkable water. In fact, joy is the water of our spirit, the way peace is the spiritual air we breathe, and love the spiritual food we ingest.
Joy is the water of our spirit, the way peace is the spiritual air we breathe, and love the spiritual food we ingest.
In my experience, and the experiences of others, systemic joy is accessed most commonly through our feet, though it can enter our bodies other ways, through our skin, our back, anywhere really. But feet is the most common. It is good to be intentional about this, the way it is good to be intentional about keeping our bodies hydrated. If we sit or lie down with the intention of being filled with systemic joy we can sense it enter through our feet as a kind of spiritual dialysis. We don’t have to do this a long time, just a few seconds or so. Once a day is okay; more is okay, too. The joy flows through our systems like liquid gold, all through our bodies, our limbs, and our heads.
Systemic joy doesn’t “feel” like the joy we know in response to external experience.
Systemic joy doesn’t “feel” like the joy we know in response to external experience. That joy is more brilliant, like a starburst within us. It is wonderful. Systemic joy is softer and more thorough. Systemic joy can be accessed even if we are grieving, depressed, or anxious in any way. The gold water flows through our bodies. In spite of all external conditions, we are better, more stable, and healthier, whether we “feel” so or not.
Systemic joy can and does keep us going when those experiences seem to pass us by.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with the joy that responds to external happening. It is wonderful. The point here is that there is joy that can and does keep us going when those experiences seem to pass us by. Again, it is like water: sometimes we have a glass of water that is so good at that particular time we can’t believe anything can ever taste that good or be that refreshing. And maybe it can’t. But then there is the everyday water we drink to stay alive and healthy. Does it taste good? Good enough for us to take in a good bit daily, every day.
Systemic joy is our daily water. Give us this day our daily bread, and give us this day our daily water. Daily bread and daily water may not be five-star restaurant experiences, but they are what sustain us and keep us healthy day after day after day. It is good to practice accessing spiritual joy and get used to it. This may not be exciting at first, although after a while you rely on its reassuring presence in your life.
Keeping your soul hydrated with systemic joy has a wonderful effect not only in our own lives but in the lives of others.
Keeping your soul hydrated with systemic joy has a wonderful effect not only in our own lives but in the lives of others. It is joy that nourishes and nurtures our kindness to others – kindness to other human beings, kindness to creation in all aspects. When we are joyful, we share our joy unconsciously. In doing so we bring living water into the lives of others. What a gift to give, what a gift to receive.
Systemic joy, the water of life. Together with the clean air of peace, and the free food of love, we are set to become the people of God each of us longs to be.
About the author: Jane Lee Wolfe is a parishioner of St. James-Woodstock, Vt. and Director of Bog Chapel, Inc., an educational not-for-profit organization that focuses on the spiritual health and spiritual fitness of human beings, from youth through old age.