JOY OF JOYS
'Come.Love! Sing on! Let me hear you sing this song - sing for joy, and laugh, for I the Creator am truly subject to all creatures'. (Mechtild of Magdeburg 1210-1280 A.D.) Here Mechtild is removing the myth that the Creator God is an all punitive figure, chasing us with a rod of iron. Rather, it is a picture as so often represented by Jesus, of a caring context for our life, from birth to death. St.Thomas Aquinas said that 'Delight is satisfied desire which has achieved the good thing it wanted. Since happiness is achievement of our highest good it must bring with it delight. The mind aims at the good, rather than the pleasure.' Aquinas is of course highlghting the scale of perfection of the good, going from perhaps having food to assuage our hunger, to meditating on what we need to do to love our own selves in a more fruitful and balanced way, to empathising with those crushed by oppression, and finally by moving into the room of contemplation, where we actively pray for ourselves and others to find the happiness of the good.
Contrast the above, with this quotation from Isaiah 24 which describes the nature of the challenge facing us in our lives:
'The wine is mourning, the vine is pining away, all glad hearts are sighing. The merry tambourines are silent, the sound of revelling is over, the merry lyre is silent. There is lamentation in the streets; no wine, joy is lost, gladness is banished from the country. Nothing but rubble in the city.' So, Joy and Destruction. Our task is to steer our way through the heavy seas, mindful that all the time we are being looked after by a Creator that cares, however distant that line of feeling may sometimes appear to our limited powers. Syria, Ukraine, or politicians lacking a clear sense of values and ethics. All these need to be confronted.To sally forth into the world,we need a foundation of Joy within ourselves, so that we can better deal actively with the darkness. Thank you. Tom Baxter