“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.” – Tecumseh
I love listening to podcasts. One of my favorite podcasts closes every episode by asking their featured guest the question, “What is giving you joy right now?”
Inevitably, it’s something inspiring like a great book, a favorite app, a daily habit, or a ritual they have started incorporating into their day. Every time I listen to that question, it immediately invites me to turn to my own life to wonder, “What is giving me joy right now?”
Lately, that question reminds me of water towers. I have a friend with a special needs brother who is obsessed with water towers. Whenever I see him, he asks me if I know of the water tower near my hometown, or of a water tower where I went to college, or the water tower near an airport. From memory, he can describe almost every water tower style, color, and shape with exact details. After spending several days in a row with him, our family too became obsessed with water towers.
I was recently travelling with family in Michigan and during our several-hour drive across the state, we could not help but shout out, “Water tower!” with jubilation every time we saw a new one. Those water towers had always been there, but because of my friend’s passion, it carried over to our hearts as a source of passion too. When you seek out something, it is there for the finding.
Joy is like that. It’s always there for the finding if we make it the thing we seek. Sometimes when a day is going terribly or life feels full of mundane, ordinary things, I remind myself of that same important question, “What is giving me joy right now?” It is still there, waiting to be noticed yet again.
For me, joy has been going for walks and truly noticing the fall season. The fall colors have been changing so softly, you could miss them if you don’t pay attention. On a recent walk, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath to capture the fall smells. I noticed the tumbling leaves, falling like confetti and swirling in tiny tornadoes. I listened for the sounds of travelling birds. I admired the artistic long shadows created by my and my son’s silhouettes. I loved how the sun’s rays were softening in the fading golden light.
Homeschooling through high school can be a grind. I see families with younger homeschooling children and I feel a deep nostalgia. I miss the days of abundant field trips, reading lovely picture books together, and being more deeply involved in the rich feast of learning. Now my role has shifted to more of a project manager and quality control. I find myself immersed in college prep planning, transcript tracking, and accounting-style activities. Even though this season has a different focus, there is still joy to be found. My days may have an ordinary rhythm, but there is still goodness in it.
When you think about joy like that, you realize it’s everywhere. It’s not only in the mountaintop moments when your student writes a great paper or shares a profound speech. It’s found in the dinnertime moments when they ask you what you were like in high school or they want to know what you thought about something at their age. It’s found in car rides to the grocery store and folding laundry while discussing the news. It is like water towers. It is everywhere. There is so much of it, and if you open your eyes, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by God’s joy everywhere you look.