On Finding Joy

 As a young social worker, I was taught about schizophrenogenic mothers, mothers who were responsible for their children’s schizophrenia. In the day it was the norm to hold mothers accountable (actually to blame them) for all of the mental dis-ease that befell their children and families. Perhaps it is in that spirit that I share this apocryphal story about everyone’s and no one’s in particular mother. . .

There indeed was a mother who was known throughout the neighborhood for her quest for perfection. She spent her life bemoaning the circumstances of her life. Nothing was ever quite good enough, nothing satisfied her.

Life went on in the village. Days came, and days went. People got up, went to work. They laughed, they cried. They did all the things that people do in the days of their lives.

One grace filled summer day the sun burst through the fog that had risen from the ground after the nights storm had ended. A rainbow hovered over the mountains, and the sun spread sparkling light over the gardens and fields in a blaze of glorious color and light. It was one of those moments that took your breath away and left you inspired with the beauty and grandeur of your town and our world. It was an “ahh moment” if there ever was one.

Surely even that mother would see the beauty and joy of life in this!

Father Poplowski called out to the mother, “my daughter is this not a most glorious day?”

And the mother replied, “Well it may be Father, but will it last?”

Well, of course not. Nothing lasts forever. The sweetness, the joy is in the moment – perhaps made even sweeter in the knowledge of its evanescent ephemeral nature. Nothing lasts forever, Nothing ever could. And, yet somewhere in our youth or childhood, we must have found something good. And so, let us re-claim the lost innocence of youth and childhood. Let us learn and remember to take our joy, our happiness, our hope were we can find them, where we can create them.


In Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope, Joan Chittister reminds us of the sunflower – that beautiful plant which even in shadow turns its head towards the sun. Chittister christens the sunflower the patron saint of those in despair. She offers us this guidance from the people of New Zealond: Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows always fall behind you.


Today, this day, let us all make the effort. Let us enjoy beauty where it finds us, let us embody the sunflower and each turn our face to the sun!

One thought on “On Finding Joy

  1. Thérèse

    A beautiful reminder, Mary, of how perspective can change everything. Thank you. One evening, in the midst of working with persons with AIDS in support groups who were feeling rather despairing I told them a story. “Last week I was driving my five children to our family counseling appointment. During the 20 minute drive the light snow turned into a blizzard. As I drove home my neck was aching from holding the steering wheel tightly. When we arrived home the entrance to our home was covered with wet boots and gloves, a mess! I did my best to put old towels under it all to avoid ruining he wood floor. I awakened the next morning. The sun was shining, the snow had melted, and in the hallway the wreckage of the previous night’s drive home. The weather had changed everything. I felt a bit annoyed as I couldn’t even justify the previous evening’s stress while looking out on a snow covered lawn. Nothing was left but the remnants of the snow in the hallway. The group members all began to share about the inevitability of change and how feelings were like the weather. Another recent experience was brought to mind in reading your story. My 10 year old granddaughter and I were driving home after dropping her cousins Audrey (7) and Sophia (9) at home. I looked up and the sky was performing a show for us. The sky had painted beautiful streaks of red and rose and pink and baby blue. I am not a great photographer but I asked Amelia to pass me my I-phone. I pulled over to take a shot of the sky. It was too late. The entire dramatic sky had lost it’s beautiful color as the sun dropped below the landscape. I looked at Amelia and, disappointed, said “Oh we’re too late
    Amelia..” She looked ahead and said very matter-of-factly, “Live in the moment.”
    That said it all.

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