Sunday, September 2, 2012

when I see stars

Do you think it's possible to die of Joy?

I was looking up at the ceiling of the basilica. The ceiling right above the choir loft is a star-speckled field of blue. Painted onto this canvas of night sky are angels, some of them holding stars, some holding wreaths, some in the middle of flight. Some are cherubs, some are portrayed as more statuesque beings, but what they all have in common is motion. All of them are in the middle of flight, in the middle of a rush of movement, propelled by ecstatic exuberance.

Motion is one of the most common symptoms of effusive joy or enthusiasm. Joy causes us to jump and leap and run, or bounce up and down in our seat, or sprint and prance around the quad, or do cartwheels, or splash in water, or crank the volume and start dancing. Anger causes rigidity, sadness causes weight, but joy leads to motion. 
When enthused, what human can keep that spirit contained within ourselves? Joy naturally spills over and out of us. It manifests itself with smiles and laughs and spurts of motion and great big bear hugs and spinning and rolling around on the ground, and leaping like gazelles. When in motion, the focus becomes less on ourselves, and more on the action we are performing. We are, in a way, being pulled out of ourselves.
Joy does that--joy pulls us out of ourselves.

Thus, joy leads to bursts of physical energy, and a desire to lose ourselves. 
Joy, I imagine, is capable of pulling us completely out of ourselves.
Joy's true purpose is to call us home. Because hidden underneath the outward signs of joy, the real movement of joy takes place within our hearts.
Joy pulls our souls towards their desire; our souls respond to joy by leaping into motion. Stirred by Joy's impetus, they climb towards that for which they have always longed.

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