During dark and painful times it can be impossible to notice (muchless access and actually experience) joy. The mere suggestion that we can experience joy during times of hardship or sorrow seems contrary if not maddening. Noticing joy in grief feels counterintuitive yet it is this very duality that carries us, saves us, motivates and moves us forward.
Rabbi Andi Berlin speaks about the moral courage it takes to grieve, to feel the depth of pain and fear while still connecting to moments of joy. She teaches that it is our obligation to honor the blessing of joy in times of struggle and even times of mourning. The commandment that joy outweighs the action of sorrow reminds us as we move through the cycles of life that joy is the counterbalance to sorrow.
Rabbi Berlin says, “the darkness of the world requires us to create light”. We do this no matter the weight of our struggle by embracing and sharing the experience of joy. By noticing the miracles and blessings that exist outside the depths of our grief. Experiences of joy such as kindness, compassion, empathy expressed. Support offered. Laughter shared through tears. A touch reminding you that you are seen, a note that you are thought of, a meal delivered or shared that you are not alone. Moments of joy buffer the pain of deep grief while creating opportunity for emotional respite. Joy might present in the form of ritual connecting us to those that came before, music filling our hearts with nostalgia, prayers providing reassurance and comfort. The starry skies quite literally show us that there is much beyond what we can see or feel, butterflies fluttering by bringing wonder, beauty and proof that transformation is possible, rainbows demanding us to pause in joy recognizing that beauty exists in the duality of darkness and light. It is in these moments that we ought to pause and embrace the miracle, the blessing of joy, with humility and grace.
It takes great faith and courage to be open to experiencing moments of joy in grief. Joy is necessary, life affirming, healing.
For what we are, we are by sharing. And as we share we move toward the light.