Cynicism vs. Joy
For me it is amazing to experience daily the radical difference between cynicism and joy. Cynics seek darkness wherever they go. They point always to approaching dangers, impure motives, and hidden schemes. They call trust naive, care romantic, and forgiveness sentimental. They sneer and enthusiasm, ridicule spiritual fervor, and despise charismatic behavior. They consider themselves realists who see reality for what it truly is and who are not deceived by "escapist emotions." But in belittling God's joy, their darkness only calls forth more darkness.
People who have come to know the joy of God do not deny the darkness, but they choose not to live in it. They claim the light that shines in the darkness can be trusted more than the darkness itself and that a little bit of light can dispel a lot of darkness They point each other to flashes of light here and there, and remind each other that they reveal the hidden but real presence of God. They discover that there are people who heal each other's wounds, forgive each other's offenses, share their possessions, foster the spirit of community, celebrate the gifts they have received, and live in constant anticipation of the full manifestation of God's glory.
Henri J.M. Nouwen The return of the prodigal son
I see much of myself in the cynic. Especially in religious scenarios. It is interesting to note that the joy Nouwen speaks of is not something that just "happens". It's chosen. I can see how, much like love, this joy is transformative to those who experience it. (an those who manifest it as well) It is my greatest hope that my life may in some small way be a "light" that might disperse much darkness. It is my greatest hope for you as well.
Speaking of which, what are we to make of the implied consideration that one must be a religious person in order to experience this joy? To this I would simply like to say that (at least in my view) the implication is misplaced. For those who don't assent to the intellectual proposition "there is a God" yet who's life displays a faith in love beyond self, I maintain they know more than they realize.
Tom once said to me he gets the feeling I believe in love more than I do in God. I'm not so sure there's much of a difference. I don't see how we could have one without the other.
"God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
1 John 4:16
Choose joy. Choose love.