Sturdy joy


Dusk, July 4th, Vermont.  Can you see the holiness?  Actually, how can one not see the holiness?

It has taken me so long, with this lengthy waking-up process and this endless circling around the spiral of the same questions, the same heartbreak, the same wound, but I am occasionally aware of a sense of joy so sturdy I think I have to call it contentment.  The truth is I’m unaccustomed to this kind of happiness.

Untrammelled joy is just not a part of my normal range of emotion.  Spikes of overwhelming happiness alloyed with a breathtaking wonder at this world?  Yes.  Dark moments of despair and equally overwhelming awareness of all the ways in which this life cuts me?  Yes.  But this sense of steady pleasure at my life?  That is new.

And it’s not constant.  Far from it.  Oh, sadness will always be a part of me, an undeniable part of my personality.  I’ve written about the seam of sorrow that runs through me and it is stitched through every moment of my life.  But there was a morning recently where I woke up, noticed the particular grey of the sky (it has been a hideously horrible summer for weather here), sipped my coffee, read some blogs I love.  As Grace and Whit were having breakfast, before I drove the to farm camp, they started bickering.  And it aggravated me, but somehow it felt different.  It didn’t disrupt the current of my morning, did not dislodge the sense of contentment that had floated over me in the morning.

Something fundamental has shifted.  Daily, I am overcome with the sheer outrageous privilege of living on this earth.  That’s not new, but perhaps the accumulation of days has finally come to something, built a base of joy on which I now stand.   I’m the same person, and I still cry every single day, and I get snappy and short and frustrated and aggravated.  But there is something more rooted, something firmer, as though some essential contentment that has spread over the soil of my soul.

I keep thinking of Annie Dillard’s quote that “Holiness lies spread and borne over the surface of time and stuff like color.”  It’s as though I have finally learned to see that holiness, and now I can’t stop seeing it.  No matter how bad a day I have, that holiness is always there, and it buoys me.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  I feel as though my connection to the world is gradually deepening, and this tether feels firm, solid.  I can hold onto it.  On the worst days, when all i can do is whisper “thank you” and try to remember that I mean it, when Whit comes to me and looks at my face and asks me if I feel like Temple Grandin (he was very affected by that movie, and immediately understood that the ways in which the world overstimulates her were similar for me), when everything makes me weep, I can hold onto that tether and know that it will bring me back to center eventually.

Get Lindsey's thoughts on mindful living and parenting in your inbox


  1. Nadine
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:06 am | Permalink

    I have been following you beautiful blog for over a year now. So much of what your writing about resonates with me and I am so glad you are discovering this sense of sturdy joy. It is a feeling unfamiliar to me (yet), but your post makes me hopeful that I may discover it myself as I get older.
    Thanks for your amazing writing!

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much. I’m more grateful than I can say to know that you’re reading and that what I share resonates with you. Thank you. xoxo

  2. Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    oh yes, I do. for me, it’s a soulful love of life and love of my particular life. grateful for the bounty that is living (the pain and pleasure, trauma and bliss, mundane and magic). your words capture it with such an elegant and poetic truth. thank you, lindsey.

    admin Reply:

    Oh, YES: all that bounty. Yes, yes. Thank you for putting it so exquisitely. xox

  3. Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Lindsey, this is so lovely, and I’m so glad that you’ve found that tether to hold onto when you need it. Amen!

  4. LS
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve been reading your column for a couple of years now, and I will say that I’ve noticed a subtle change in your writing lately that reflects what you’ve written in today’s entry. Your most recent posts seem like they’ve gone to a new and different place, and it’s been fantastic to read them (I even quoted a portion of one of your entries to my husband the other day). It also gives me hope that I too might find that level of contentment and gratitude for myself. I so get that “seam of sorrow” you refer to; it’s so much a part of who I am and now with young children I’m wondering if either of them has it or can see it in me. It’s been a comfort to read how you have struggled with this as well. Thank you again!!

  5. Laurie
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Yes. Definitely. The tether is there, but only when I remember to acknowledge the overwhelm and do something to help myself move through it. (Bless HBO and Temple Grandin for broadcasting the concept of heightened sensitivity and its often overlooked gifts–saw her in a two-day seminar: fabulous.) In the past I’ve sometimes found your thoughts on sadness and overwhelm too painfully close to my own; I’m heartened that you have found your way to a sturdy joy, something I too have only recently sensed. Thanks for saying this all so elegantly, Lindsey.

  6. Posted July 17, 2013 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Yes, I know. I still, too often, let go of the tether. But at least I know it is there, and I’m learning how to reach for it. Progress.

  7. Posted July 17, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Love this: “But there is something more rooted, something firmer, as though some essential contentment that has spread over the soil of my soul.”

    I so love reading your words, Lindsey. Moving and Inspiring. xoxo

  8. jj
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I know what you mean and something has shifted for me, too. Beautiful post.

  9. Posted July 17, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful. I too feel this with more and more frequency. Age, perhaps? 🙂

  10. Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, this is the first post of yours I’ve come to read. What an exquisite expression of the ordinary, daily, deep thinking we have available to us in this miracle of blessings – life.

    Looking forward to reading more.

  11. Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Wow, great stuff again. I did so much disconnecting when I moved overseas. Now the reconnections are so much greater, so appreciated. The little boy has been showing me the way.

  12. Abbie
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Lindsey, for another beautiful, thought-provoking post.

    Now, I am going to Google Temple Grandin.

  13. Rachel
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    I am not very articulate but I had to comment, I felt like you were speaking to me when you said do you know what I mean because I do, sometimes it feels like it could go away and I am not that solid but that I am hoping to have a solid bouy someday!! I just feel sooo grateful everyday, even when I am a beast. Thanks for your blog, really!!!!

  14. Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Can you see the holiness? Actually, how can one not see the holiness?

    Amen. Amen. Thank you.

  15. Posted July 18, 2013 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    I love this. Love it. So much. So much to the point where I’m jealous because I’m in a place now that I don’t know those moments yet – I look up at that sky and think “Wow, that’s nice” and it’s just a blink before I am pulled back into my everyday sorrow/frustrations/reality…? I’m learning lately that I’m capable of that kind of joy again, but only up until a point. Only in small doses. In Fleeting moments. I’m hoping that it’s malleable for me and can stretch and grow one day to become something bigger than I am able to allow it to be now. xoxo, J.

  16. Posted July 18, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    “No matter how bad a day I have, that holiness is always there, and it buoys me.” —-> Beautiful! And you’re a beautiful soul!

One Trackback

  1. By | We Love Gratitude : Be Grateful on July 18, 2013 at 4:06 am

    […] Lindsey on experiencing joy: “”Daily, I am overcome with the sheer outrageous privilege of […]