June’s monthly theme, the path of delight, invites us to put our attention on beauty and joy and wholeness, even when the pain within and around us threatens to overwhelm. That pain is present in every moment of every day, and it’s easy to let it grab and keep our focus. Suffering and loss loom large in our lives, and it may feel like this talk of delight is just an invitation to distraction. But I’m not just encouraging you to focus on a delight to replace the pain- I’m thinking that a practice of noticing and cultivating delight might actually help us face the pain. What would it feel like to have access to that beautiful and necessary feeling of opening our hearts and spirits to delight, at any time?
Parker Palmer wrote, “Suffering breaks our hearts, but the heart can break in two different ways. There’s the brittle heart that breaks into shards, shattering the one who suffers as it explodes, and sometimes taking others down when it’s thrown like a grenade at the ostensible source of its pain. Then there’s the supple heart, the one that breaks open, not apart, the one that can grow into greater capacity for the many forms of love. Only the supple heart can hold suffering in a way that opens to new life.”
I believe that nurturing a practice of noticing delight is a way to keep our hearts supple, so that when the next thing comes along to break our hearts, we know that pain is not all there is. So I encourage you to stop for a moment to let yourself feel delight at the flowers blooming this spring, or the warmth of the sun on your face, or the sound of music you love, or the feel of a friend’s handshake or hug, or the voice of someone you care about. Or find delight in a sweet memory, a picture or a word or a song that takes you back to a moment in which your heart burst wide open with love or joy.
Another reason to journey the path of delight is that it reminds us of the error in the harmful societal messages that we neither have enough nor are enough. Finding delight offers us a concrete reminder that we don’t need all that stuff- that we need not be consumers to experience pleasure and joy. And seeking delight in things that cost us neither money nor the humanity of others counters the cultures of extraction and white supremacy.
So friends, how are your heart and spirit these days? Is it possible for you to notice delight in things around you? To conjure stories or memories that bring you delight? To share what you’ve found delightful with others? If yes, I hope you’ll bring your delight with you to share at our next service! And if no, I hope you’ll bring your needs so that the rest of us might offer to share our delights with you.
In faith and love,