In a recent interview with poet Ross Gay, Krista Tippet suggested that his work could be summarized as seeing “joy as a calling precisely in a moment like this.” The “moment like this” is our present condition of environmental degradation, blatant white nationalism, and general anxiety about the trajectory of our nation and species. These are precisely the conditions that can make joy seem irresponsible — the possession of the privileged few, or those oblivious to reality. Not so, says Ross Gay. Not so at all.
A synonym for joy that Ross Gay uses frequently is
delight. Between his 42nd and
43rd birthday he committed to writing each day, however briefly, about
something that brought him delight. It
is published as The
Book of Delights: Essays.
He has also written about love and beauty: “I often think
the gap in our speaking about and for justice is that we forget to advocate for
what we love. For what we find beautiful
and necessary. We are good at fighting,
but imagining and holding in one’s imagination what is wonderful and to be adored
and preserved and exalted is harder for us.”
All this is important and so very freeing. Joy is, after all, one of those fruits of the
Spirit that Paul names in Galatians, right alongside love and peace. Joy and delight are of divine origin, with
value in and of themselves. Joy is not an
easy thing to possess, but it seems that relaxing into the Spirit could enable us
to be possessed by it just a little more each day.