having no joy, for they knew no misery

The Weekly Photo Challenge this week was Joy.  I looked at other posts and saw faces of children, nature photos and descriptions of the joy that Christ brings.  I wondered what photo I could post that would exemplify what is joy to me.  I thought of the baby girl looking at her daddy with awe.  Then I thought of the photo our son-in-law sent us when our daughter delivered their stillborn son.  Mama was holding her child tighter than I’ve ever seen her hold anything; staring into his face as she wanted to memorize it forever.  Their joy in their other children was certainly amplified from that experience.  Heaven now holds more joy than we might have imagined it would.

It got me thinking about what joy really is.  Dallin H. Oaks said, “Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being.”  I don’t know if that is an uncommon definition but I think a lot of Christians describe it that way because of the peace Christ brings when we focus on Him.  Elder Oaks added, “The opposite of joy is misery.”  Opposition helps me to appreciate the good in my life.  Contrast certainly helps to define whatever it is that is opposite.  I’m just glad that it doesn’t take much misery for me recognize joy.

Green Flash at Yaquina Bay
Green Flash at Yaquina Bay

I’ve said before, I’ve never appreciated the sun so much as I have after living in Oregon where I can go for weeks without seeing it.  Even when it is not cloudy, a mountain (mostly) hides it from my home during the winter months.  While that may not be pleasant, it is a far cry from true misery.  I’m not saying I want to experience true misery so I can experience true joy.   I’m satisfied with the trials I’ve had and I trust that I won’t be given anything I can’t handle.

We happened to be driving down Hwy 101 this evening just before sunset.  So we (and about 30 other people) pulled into Yaquina Bay Lighthouse.  In typical meerkat fashion, we lined the edge of the parking lot watching the colors change, wondering if we’d be rewarded with a green flash.  Some silently watched alone, others were arm-in-arm with a loved one.  Parents tried to help children hold their attention on the slow-moving sun.  We were rewarded even though I didn’t capture the best of the green flash on camera.

sunset at Yaquina Bay
After the sunset

But once the sun set, the real show began.  Colors slowly changed from yellow, orange and blue to pink and purple and it lasted and lasted.

So there it was; a few moments of peace and tranquility.  It lasted as long as I was still and watched and took it all in.  And now I have the memory to reflect on and to contrast.  “men are, that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25.)    He created us to have joy!   I think this is one area where balance is not required.  It only takes a short burst of pain to help me appreciate feeling good for a long time.

References:  2 Nephi 2:23-25;   Dallin H Oaks article:  October 1991 General Conference

Wow – I hope the next photo challenge isn’t as thought-provoking!

Happy New Year!

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