Shelley J Whitehead

Joy is the reward for effort and connection

31 May, 2022

In the light-filled month of June, I find a sense of peace washing over me. It’s the month that nature roars, joyfully, and my garden is teeming with life and colour. The droning bees buzz from flower to flower and I can sit in stillness and drink in the summer air, fully present in the moment, in a space of more-than contentment.

The business of Spring has given way to a period of the year when tuning in to nature is effortless. This one-ness with natural beauty fills my heart with an easy love for the world, a feeling my body recognises as joy. A full-bodied expansiveness.

A close cousin of happiness, joy is an emotion that bubbles up to work its magic and overflows outwards – infectious and uplifting. My experience has taught me never to judge emotions, never to label them ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and never to cling to them. I let them move in, through and out of my body. They bring me what I need to know, what I need to feel… and then life moves on. If I gripped too tight my rigidity would see me looking backwards and grasping for something that – like a wild flower – wilts in captivity… but as I breathe through these feelings and let them pass as they will, it’s like a river of life bringing nourishment, bringing gifts, taking away the stagnant remnants of the past. Continually shifting and shaping my growth.

Joy is the beautiful reward for investment and toil – showing its glorious face when I open my soul fully to the things I feel most connected to (my garden, my family, my little tribe of soulmates, my mischievous little rascal of a dog Daisie). Without the dark months of winter and the hopeful and effortful months of Spring, I wouldn’t recognise the achievement of reaching this place of presence and communion.

My kintsugi heart sings in these fleeting moments. If my soul hadn’t cracked open through the pain of the past, there would never have been space for the river of golden joy to weave its way in, settling to become part of who I am. Every rupture and every bit of heartbreak expanding my capacity to receive happy rewards. The dark and light in my past fusing in the alchemic mix of me. So, too, in my garden as the frosts of the winter months sharpened the raw energy of the dormant buds in readiness to burst into vibrancy – from the dark earth into the light – no life without contrasting forces, no joy without hardship.

Just for today, I sit in an open-hearted presence. I yield to those forces of nature and I flow with them. Just for a fleeting moment, I have no choices to make and nothing to do other than to bask in a happy, contented, joy-filled place.

Shelley J Whitehead
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