It’s midsummer and we’re on Heat Warning #110, or something like that. Our heat warning parameters are normal summer temperatures for some folk further south, but ‘normal’ has become a concept fraught with relativity and ambiguity and sweat. Apparently. So here we are, grateful that at least we have air conditioning in the truck if no where else.
It is also time for a midsummer issue of Jots & Doodles, a ‘bonus’ issue I’m squeezing in so I can meet my goal of 12 issues this year. As always, there is a bit of back story to both the jots and the doodles.
First, this issue includes actual doodles on the front cover, because what better way to introduce the theme of JOY! It includes doodles of enjoyable things (to me!) like fields and mountains, pebbles and flowers (of course!), and things that just are: sun, rain, wind. I find joy in these sometimes, but not always. I’m wondering if this wrestling with what gives us joy one day and not another, and what not only doesn’t give joy but actually snatches it away is part of what it means to be human.
A secondary theme (unintended) in this issue is daughters. The drawings within the zine are of three daughters — two are daughters of dear friends, one is my own daughter as a baby. I chose these drawings because I was thinking about how we express joy, and their facial expressions helped me explore some its nuances. Sometimes joy radiates from our faces, lights up our eyes, explodes into song or laughter or worship. But there are also times when joy is less about how we look or feel, but how we live. It is contentment and gladness and gratitude and wonder. It is also faith, comfort, and strength. It promotes peace and serves others. It is a fruit of the Spirit, evidence that he is at work in us regardless of circumstances. We are so easily derailed by circumstances, aren’t we? And then we choke on the words of the apostle James who tells us that we should “consider it pure joy” whenever life gets really bumpy and hard. Which, of course, is precisely why joy is a fruit of the Spirit. We may know what it is like to feel happy and glad, but the deep cultivating work of joy comes from surrender to what God is doing, not what we can manufacture from the bits and pieces of our lives.
The three little pieces I have written only scratch the surface of joy. So much more comes to mind even now as I write this. The first explores joy as wonder, the second, joy as contentment, and the third, joy as Jesus’ desire for us. God actually desires us to have his joy. I’m still letting that wrap itself around me because trying to wrap my head around it just leaves me in tears — it is a truth so profound and beautiful and … just… wow.
You can find the Joy issue here or by going to the Jots & Doodles page from the main menu. May it spark some joy in your life!